High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a very common health condition. About a third of all American adults have the condition, and many people successfully manage it for years. Most of us know someone in this position, and possibly several people.
With this level of familiarity, there is a danger that we might come to disregard the potential risks for hypertension. But hypertension has a number of potentially deadly consequences that should be taken seriously. In some cases, this may even mean talking to your dentist about your blood pressure.
Breaking Your Heart
Of all the organs in your body, the one that may suffer most from high blood pressure is your heart. Your heart has to work harder to maintain the elevated blood pressure, leading to strain on the heart. You might experience angina, chest pain, as a result, but more serious consequences can develop, too.
High blood pressure can increase your risk of several types of heart failure, including irregular heart rhythm, heart attack, and cardiac arrest. Cardiac death can even occur.
Treating your blood pressure and keeping it under control can reduce the stress and damage to your heart.
Another of the serious health effects of hypertension is stroke risk. High blood pressure can significantly increase your risk of stroke.
High blood pressure can weaken or eventually burst the blood vessels in the brain. This can lead to what is known as a hemorrhagic stroke: bleeding in the brain increases pressure, which pinches the blood vessels closed.
High blood pressure can also increase your risk of ischemic stroke. Ischemic stroke occurs when arterial plaque or a blood clot breaks free in an artery and is carried to the brain.The debris gets lodged in the narrow blood vessels, blocking blood flow.
Your high blood pressure can lead to serious damage of your kidneys. Kidneys filter contaminants and waste from your blood. High blood pressure can damage the filters, reducing their ability to function. High blood pressure damage can even lead to kidney failure.
Even our seemingly sturdy bones can fall victim to high blood pressure. High blood pressure can leak calcium from our bones, causing them to develop osteoporosis. This can weaken the bones and increase the risk for serious fractures.
How Your Dentist Can Help
Many people with hypertension may also be suffering from another condition that is not quite as familiar: sleep apnea. High blood pressure is considered one of the most important warning signs for sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea can cause hypertension because every time your breathing is interrupted at night, your brain tells your heart to beat harder. These intermittent spikes in blood pressure can lead to universal disruption of your blood pressure regulation system.
As a result of this process, sleep apnea continues to drive hypertension. Treating sleep apnea can reduce hypertension. Sleep apnea is often associated with drug-resistant hypertension, so it may be that in some cases treating sleep apnea is the only way to bring down hypertension.
And this is where your dentist can help. We offer a comfortable, convenient treatment for sleep apnea.