Understanding High Blood Pressure In Men
We’ve all been to the doctor and had a nurse take our blood pressure. The nurse puts the cuff on, places the stethoscope on the crook of the elbow and starts pumping the cuff up. No big deal, right? Well, not necessarily the case if you have hypertension—commonly known as high blood pressure.
Hypertension is a huge issue, affecting more than 100 million adults in the United States only. It can also lead to a host of other problems if it is left unchecked.
Hypertension in men
Simply put, blood pressure is the pressure your blood puts on the walls of your blood vessels as it circulates through the body. It is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm/Hg) and is recorded as one number over another.
As a refresher, the first number is the systolic pressure—the pressure when your heart beats. The second number is the diastolic pressure and is a measurement of pressure in between beats.
A good blood pressure would be below 120/80 mm Hg. When it goes above 130/80, you are considered stage 1 hypertensive. Stage 2 hypertension would be 140/90 and above.
Blood pressure always fluctuates, and it can increase with stress or during exercise. You probably wouldn’t be diagnosed with high blood pressure until after you have been checked a few times.
For men, the bad news is they are more likely to be found hypertensive than women.
The risk factors that cannot be changed include:
Gender—men are more likely to develop hypertension than women
Race—African-Americans have higher risk than other races
Age—the older you get the more likely you will develop high blood pressure
Family history—Dr. Hatch notes high blood pressure is twice as common in people with 1 or 2 hypertensive parents
Chronic kidney disease—people with chronic kidney disease are at a greater risk for high blood pressure
Additionally, there are some risk factors that you can control. Those include:
An unhealthy diet that is also high in sodium
Drinking too much alcohol
Smoking or using tobacco
Once a man is diagnosed with hypertension, he will need to get treatment. Leaving high blood pressure untreated can cause kidney disease, coronary artery disease, lung disease, heart failure and stroke. It’s also one of the biggest contributors to cardiovascular disease and peripheral artery disease.
Prevention / Treatment
High blood pressure can often be prevented or reduced by eating healthily, maintaining a healthy weight, taking regular exercise, drinking alcohol in moderation and not smoking.
Cut down on the amount of salt in your food and eat plenty of fruit and vegetables.
Salt raises your blood pressure. The more salt you eat, the higher your blood pressure. Aim to eat less than 6g (0.2oz) of salt a day, which is about a teaspoonful.
Eating a low-fat diet that includes lots of fibre, such as wholegrain rice, bread and pasta, and plenty of fruit and vegetables also helps lower blood pressure.
Aim to eat 5 portions of fruit and vegetables every day.
Regularly drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure over time.
Staying within the recommended levels is the best way to reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure.
Being active and taking regular exercise lowers blood pressure by keeping your heart and blood vessels in good condition.
Regular exercise can also help you lose weight, which will also help lower your blood pressure.
Adults should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as cycling or fast walking, every week.
Hypertension and stroke
It is critical that you get your blood pressure under control. As mentioned before, it can lead to several other conditions—including stroke.
For men who have had years of uncontrolled high blood pressure, the risk for stroke increases. Hypertension leads to a buildup of plaque in the arteries leading to the brain. This build up of plaque is called atherosclerosis, and hypertension can make blood vessels more prone to it by damaging the lining of the arteries.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, someone suffers from a stroke every 40 seconds in the United States. The CDC also reports that someone dies from a stroke almost every 4 minutes.
The good news is, if you have hypertension, it doesn’t mean the damage is done. With significant weight loss and living a healthy life, you can get off medications to control hypertension.
The most important thing for anyone—man or woman, young or old—is to know your numbers.
“Have a regular conversation with your doctor about your blood pressure,” “If you've known about high blood pressure and not had it treated, it can cause some serious problems. Knowing about your blood pressure is the number 1 modifiable risk factor to help prevent stroke, heart attack, and kidney disease.”
Blog from Banner Health
For additional information, visit the NHS page about Hypertension