Knowing their blood pressure levels is a great way for men to reclaim their heart health and prevent other problems down the road.
It’s been a tough year. Routine health may not have been top of mind, but with the holiday season approaching, it’s a good time to recommit to overall health and prevention once again. Looking for a simple way to take that first step? Get your blood pressure checked!
Your blood pressure can be influenced by many factors, and many of them are controllable, such as diet, exercise, and other habits. For men, one of the biggest risk factors of high blood pressure is something they can’t control – simply being a man.
According to the CDC, 47% of men have hypertension, compared with 43% of women. This difference is related to both biological and behavioral factors; for instance, different hormones in men and women. This may be why women’s risk catches up after menopause when their hormone levels change. Hypertension is also particularly high among Black and Hispanic men.
Effects of Hypertension
High blood pressure causes damage to the blood vessels because of the blood’s excessive force against the artery walls. Although you probably know that elevated blood pressure can result in cardiac problems like a heart attack, elevated blood pressure can also impact the proper function of other organs throughout the entire body, including the following:
When blood vessels are damaged, they lose their ability to relax. This can impact the ability to achieve intimacy, as this process relies on blood flow to the male sex organ. To make matters worse, several medications used to treat hypertension can cause erectile dysfunction as a side effect. Research has found that almost half of men ages 40-79 with hypertension also have ED – and some studies report that number to be as high as 68%.
On the other hand, patients who are taking Viagra or other medications to treat ED need to make their physicians aware of this, as these drugs may interact with certain types of blood pressure treatments and result in sudden drops in blood pressure.
Your eyes are home to many tiny blood vessels. Over time, elevated blood pressure can lead to damage of those blood vessels or of the retina, resulting in blurred vision or vision loss. Other potential complications of high blood pressure include damage to nerves involved in vision.
Elevated blood pressure can contribute to various brain-related issues like stroke, memory loss and even dementia. These issues are also related to damage to blood vessels in the brain and other mechanisms that are less well understood.
High blood pressure can damage the kidney’s glomerulus, which plays a key role in filtering toxins from the blood. Over time, this damage can result in kidney failure. What’s worse, the kidneys play a role in regulating blood pressure, so as the kidneys fail, your blood pressure can be even more elevated.
To prevent these issues, you should start by knowing your blood pressure. For most people, anything less than 130/90 is considered healthy. You should get your blood pressure checked at least once a year at your primary care checkup – or invest in an at-home device if you’ve had a history of elevated pressure in the past. Also, get out on that bike or running trail! Whether you are at risk for hypertension or not, exercise can improve your blood pressure among other benefits, and is the best gift to yourself this holiday season.