Hypertension: The Silent Killer – Unveiling the Dangers and Protecting Your Health

Hypertension-The-Silent Killer


Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is often called a “silent killer” because there are no obvious symptoms of this condition that may indicate that something is wrong. Thus, it may go unnoticed. When blood flows through the arteries, it puts some pressure against the walls of the arteries. Such pressure can fluctuate throughout the day. Pressure against the arterial wall crossing higher than normal levels may not show any obvious signs, and mounting pressure over time without treatment may lead to fatal complications. The best way to protect oneself against it is to understand the individual risks and take the necessary steps to ensure that blood pressure is under control.

Knowing Where You Stand: Blood Pressure Numbers

Blood pressure measurement refers to the force exerted by the flow of blood against the walls of the arteries every time the heart pumps the blood. The blood pressure of an individual is measured based on two readings that provide insight into their health.

  1. The first reading, or top number, refers to the systolic pressure, which is the pressure in the blood vessels when the heart beats. 
  2. The second, or bottom number, is the diastolic pressure, which is when the heart relaxes between successive heartbeats and the pressure in the blood vessels is lower than systolic pressure.

The first number, or systolic pressure number, is higher than the second, or diastolic pressure number. Blood pressure is measured in mmHg. The normal blood pressure is represented by 120/80 mmHg and lower. Based on measurement of blood pressure, here is what it means at different levels. 

Blood Pressure Category  Systolic Pressure in mmHg  and/or Diastolic Pressure in mmHg
Normal < 120 and < 80
Elevated 120-129 and < 80
High Blood Pressure (Hypertension Stage 1) 130-139 or 80-89
High Blood Pressure (Hypertension Stage 2) > 140 or > 90
Hypertensive Crisis  > 180 or > 120

Having a blood pressure significantly higher than the 120/80 mmHg mark is a cause for concern, and the person should consult a doctor to take appropriate steps.

What is Hypertension?

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is the condition of having higher than normal blood pressure. Although a person’s blood pressure may fluctuate throughout the day, a person with consistent high blood pressure measured at different times during the day may be diagnosed with high blood pressure. Higher the blood pressure, more is the risk of having other health conditions, affecting vital organs like the heart and the kidneys.

Doctors or healthcare professionals may measure a person’s blood pressure and compare it against the set medical standards of normal blood pressure. Observing consistent high blood pressure can help healthcare providers diagnose high blood pressure and make treatment decisions by reviewing their overall health condition. 

Significance of Knowing Your Blood Pressure

Early detection is key to preventing complications arising from hypertension. A person may have elevated or high blood pressure and not know it because the blood pressure increases gradually, and there are barely any symptoms. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, can be detected only through regular measurement of blood pressure in an individual. Having high blood pressure puts a person at risk of numerous cardiovascular conditions, and even stroke, among other ailments. Therefore, it is essential to keep measuring blood pressure at regular intervals if high blood pressure has been diagnosed, or if a person is at risk of developing hypertension.

Understanding the Risk Factors: What’s Behind Hypertension?

High blood pressure usually develops over time and without any warning signs. A combination of physical and environmental factors may contribute to high blood pressure. Understanding the following risk factors can help prevent hypertension beforehand by taking preventive measures: 

  • Family History: Having parents or close blood relatives with high blood pressure may put a person at an increased risk of hypertension. 
  • Age: Older adults, usually over the age of 65, are more likely to suffer from hypertension due to degradation of their arterial elasticity. 
  • Smoking and Tobacco Use: Using tobacco products can cause arterial damage by temporarily increasing blood pressure, often posing a risk of developing heart diseases.
  • Chronic Kidney Diseases: High blood pressure may result from kidney diseases. Furthermore, having high blood pressure further damages the kidney.
  • Diabetes: Having unregulated diabetes may also put a person at risk of hypertension.
  • Excessive Alcohol Consumption: Heavy alcohol consumption can put a person at risk of developing various health issues, including hypertension and even heart failure.
  • Sedentary Lifestyle: Consuming junk and highly salted foods, rich in calories with high saturated and trans fat and sugar can pose serious health issues, including high blood pressure. Additionally, not exercising or getting enough physical activity coupled with such dietary habits can put the blood vessels at risk of plaque accumulation, leading to hypertension.
  • Obesity: Being obese or greatly overweight can also put pressure on the heart and circulatory system, putting a person at risk of developing cardiovascular problems as well as hypertension.
  • High Cholesterol: Having high cholesterol levels is associated with hypertension. 
  • Stress: Consistent stress can put pressure on the blood vessels, and lead people to resort to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as consuming unhealthy foods, drinking, and smoking. Together, they pose great risk of developing hypertension.
Recognising Your Risks: Knowing the Signs & Symptoms of High Blood Pressure

Hypertension is hailed as the “silent killer” as it does not exhibit any warning signs or symptoms until it has gone too far and started damaging other parts of the body. Despite having consistent high blood pressure, people are not aware of it. Therefore, the only way to know if a person has hypertension is to measure their blood pressure at regular intervals. 

Consequences of Hypertension: Be Mindful of the Health Risks

Hypertension can be damaging to health in a number of ways, and mostly affects the vital organs of the body, such as the heart, kidneys, eyes, and even the brain. 

  • Cardiovascular Conditions

High blood pressure puts constant pressure on the arteries causing them to lose their elasticity, and decreasing the flow of blood and oxygen to the heart which may lead to various cardiovascular problems such as chest pain (angina), heart attack, and heart failure among others.

  • Brain Problems

Hypertension may damage the arteries supplying oxygen to the brain causing the arteries to become blocked and burst, leading to a stroke. This can lead to impairment and disabilities in speech, movement, and other activities. Having hypertension is also linked to poorer cognitive abilities and dementia later on in life.

  • Kidney Diseases 

People with hypertension or diabetes, or both are at a higher risk of developing chronic kidney diseases. 

Managing & Preventing High Blood Pressure

The good news is, it is possible to manage high blood pressure by lowering the risk of health problems and regulating hypertension through treatment. The first step towards treating and managing hypertension is to seek medical advice. A healthcare provider may recommend medicines to regulate high blood pressure.

When a person is diagnosed with hypertension, medicines alone may not be enough to keep it under control. Actively making lifestyle changes to lower blood pressure can also be immensely beneficial. Here’s what one can do to manage and prevent high blood pressure.

  • Get at least 30 minutes of physical activity for at least 5 days in a week
  • Quit smoking
  • Obtain and maintain a healthy weight
  • Consume a healthy diet devoid of high sodium or salt and alcohol
  • Manage stress 

It may also be useful to measure blood pressure regularly. Regular blood pressure measurement is not only important for keeping track of the hypertensive condition but also provides an insight into the effectiveness of treatment for high blood pressure. 


High blood pressure tends to be a lifelong condition that often shows little to no symptoms. This may make it difficult to detect its presence or the effectiveness of medicines without regularly checking a person’s blood pressure. Therefore, it is important to understand the risk factors, and know if a person has any. This may help diagnose high blood pressure at the earliest and prevent it from worsening by taking preventive measures.