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Are You Among the Millions of Americans Who Have High Blood Pressure and Don't Know it?

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a serious condition that affects millions of Americans, an estimated 1 in 3 adults, many of whom don’t even know they have it. The lack of symptoms are why high blood pressure is called the silent killer in the medical community, but knowing the facts and being prepared are great ways to avoid this problem — or if you already have it, to manage it safely.

Dr. Chethana Rao and the rest of us here at Prima Medicine are happy to give you tips on how to spot high blood pressure and manage it at home. We’re also available to see you in one of our offices for anything from a checkup to helpful medical advice.

Risk factors for high blood pressure, the silent killer

There might not be many symptoms with high blood pressure, hence the silent killer nickname, but there are many risk factors. According to the American Heart Association, the problem often develops gradually but can’t be cured once it does.

Many of the risk factors associated with high blood pressure are unchangeable, but others you can do something about. Among overall risk factors are:


Those who are older are more likely to develop this condition.


African Americans have a higher tendency to develop high blood pressure than any other racial group in the US.


Men 64 and under are more likely to develop this condition, but after age 65, women become more likely to develop hypertension.

Genetic history

If your family members have developed high blood pressure, you’re at an increased risk of experiencing it also.


Those who are overweight are more likely to develop high blood pressure.


People who eat large amounts of salt have an increased likelihood of developing hypertension. So do people who drink alcohol regularly.


Those who smoke have a higher chance of developing this condition.


Constant stress from any source is also a serious risk factor for hypertension.

In addition, the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association changed the guidelines for hypertension in 2017. This means many people are still associating hypertension with the old guidelines, and as such, they might not realize they have the condition, even if they do get checked regularly. 

Sadly, most people don’t get checked, even though it’s easy to find out what your blood pressure is without going to a doctor.

Are there any symptoms for high blood pressure?

There are some symptoms for high blood pressure, but most of the time, these don’t occur until your blood pressure becomes extremely high. These symptoms can include:

If you notice any of these symptoms, get a blood pressure reading right away. If you can’t get to the doctor, try going to a fire station. These facilities often offer this service, so you can find out what your condition is as soon as possible.

Do I have high blood pressure?

If you have one or more of the risk factors associated with high blood pressure, or if you notice any of the symptoms listed above, it’s important to be checked for hypertension. Still, because the condition is so difficult to catch when it offers no symptoms, you should have your blood pressure checked often. 

Visit your doctor regularly and check your blood pressure whenever you have a chance, such as when you’re at the grocery store.

Want to make an appointment with Dr. Rao?

If you’re hoping to speak with Dr. Rao about your blood pressure, you’re in luck. We have two offices: one in Fairfax and one in South Riding. Call 703-552-5678 to make an appointment at Fairfax or 703-552-5682 to make one at South Riding. Also, you can request an appointment here on our website. 

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