They call it ‘the Silent Killer.’
On this weekend’s Season 2 premier of E!’s Ice Loves Coco, 32 year old Coco Austin, wife of rapper/actor Ice-T, has just heard these words from her physician, Dr. Kosta. She was concerned about Coco’s severely high blood pressure: 170/110!
When I heard I had high blood pressure, I thought, ‘Okay, a lot of people have high blood pressure.’ But the more the doctor explained things, I realized, ‘This is a little bit more serious than I thought.’
Coco underwent an MRI test to look for medical reasons for the high blood pressure. Fortunately, the results were normal.
However, Coco’s doctor warned her that plans to get pregnant should be put on hold until her blood pressure is under control:
It’s not good for the baby, it’s not good for the pregnancy, it’s not good for you, it’s dangerous … We have to get this under control before you start planning a family.
Coco vows that she is ready to do whatever it takes to figure out what is going on, and what she needs to do to take care of the problem:
Blood pressure is the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your arteries. Each time your heart beats, it pumps out blood into the arteries. Your blood pressure is highest when your heart beats, pumping the blood. This is called systolic pressure.
When your heart is at rest, between beats, your blood pressure falls. This is the diastolic pressure.
Your blood pressure reading uses these two numbers, the systolic and diastolic pressures. Usually they are written one above or before the other. A reading of:
120/80 or lower is normal blood pressure
140/90 or higher is high blood pressure
High blood pressure can occur either from too much fluid in the blood vessels, or by narrowing of the blood vessels.
1. Nearly one in three American’s have high blood pressure (hypertension)
2. About a third of those people have no idea they have it.
3. Hypertension can go on for years before any symptoms may show up. This is why high blood pressure is often called the “Silent Killer.”
4. High blood pressure increases the heart’s workload. Over time, this increase can cause the heart muscle to thicken. As the heart pumps against elevated pressure in the blood vessels, the left ventricle becomes enlarged and the amount of blood pumped by the heart each minute (cardiac output) goes down. Without treatment, symptoms of congestive heart failure may develop.
5. It is the most common risk factor for heart disease and stroke. It can cause ischemic heart disease (decreased blood to the heart muscle that results in chest pain-angina) from the increased supply of oxygen needed by the thicker heart muscle.
6. High blood pressure also contributes to thickening of the blood vessel walls. This, in turn, may worsen artherosclerosis (increased cholesterol deposits in the blood vessels). This also increases the risk of heart attacks and stroke.
7. Hypertensive heart disease is the leading cause of illness and death from high blood pressure.
8. Hypertension can also cause damage to the kidneys, leading to kidney failure.
9. Women are about as likely as men to develop high blood pressure during their lifetimes. However, for people younger than 45 years, the condition affects more men than women. For people aged 65 years and older, it affects more women than men.
10. In the United States, high blood pressure is more common among blacks than whites. About 44% of black women have high blood pressure.
11. For more information, click here to go to the Resounding Health Casebook on the topic.