Hello everyone. I hope that all of you are enjoying the nice summer weather that we have been experiencing lately. When I was deciding on the topic of this month’s article I noticed that I have not talked about hypertension or high blood pressure. I found this very surprising as it is one of the most common health conditions among truck drivers. As a result, in this issue I am going to give you a brief overview about hypertension. Let’s get started.
Let me ask you a question. Would you drive your truck down the road with too much air in your tires? I am sure your answer was NO! Just like your tires, your arteries have an ideal operating pressure and if you increase the pressure too much, problems will arise.
Blood pressure is simply a measure of the volume of blood your heart has to pump and the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries. Basically, the more blood your heart has to pump and the narrower your arteries, the higher your blood pressure.
Most people live with high blood pressure for many years without being aware of it. However, if elevated blood pressure goes undetected for too long, it can increase your risk of serious health problems such as cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Generally, people do not experience many symptoms until their blood pressure reaches dangerous levels. At which point they may complain of headaches, dizzy spells or frequent nose bleeds. If you regularly experience these symptoms, it is very important to consult with your doctor as soon as possible. I know that it is often difficult to schedule appointments while on the road, so if you are unable to get into your regular doctor’s office, try getting into a local walk-in clinic or even a drug store as many of them have blood pressure gauges for the public to use.
There are two main categories of hypertension, primary and secondary. The vast majority of people have primary hypertension. This type of hypertension has no identifiable cause and tends to develop gradually over many years. Secondary hypertension is caused by an underlying condition such as kidney and heart disorders as well as some medications.
Who is at risk for developing hypertension? Scientists have identified several risk factors for hypertension, some of which you can control and others you can not. Age, race and family are among the risk factors that you can not control. I am going to focus on the risk factors that are modifiable. Firstly, maintaining a health body weight is essential. The more you weigh the more blood you need to supply oxygen and nutrients to your tissues. As I have said many times, physical activity will not only help keep your weight down but will also strengthen your heart which in turn will reduce your blood pressure. A major risk factor of concern for truck drivers is the use of tobacco. Tobacco not only immediately raises your blood pressure but also damages the walls of your arteries causing them to become narrower. Finally, reducing your salt intake and stress levels will also help to reduce or maintain your blood pressure.
Uncontrolled hypertension can lead to many health conditions involving the organs of the body as well as the cardiovascular system. Aneurysms and heart failure are common with excessive blood pressure which is sustained over a long period of time. Other problems such as reduced brain function and eye and kidney complications are also concerns of hypertension.
Lifestyle modification can greatly reduce your blood pressure. However, sometimes changing your lifestyle is not enough. In that case, your doctor will prescribe medications to help bring your blood pressure down to normal limits.
After reading this article, I hope you have a better understanding of hypertension and realized how important it is to maintain a healthy lifestyle on the road.
Until next month, drive safely.