Masked Hypertension – the silent killer

Elevated blood pressure is known as hypertension, and can increase our risk of cardiovascular events such as stroke and heart attack, as well as conditions such as renal failure and eye disease. In fact hypertension has been ranked as the leading single risk factor for Global Burden of Disease.

Unfortunately, hypertension is largely asymptomatic, meaning you may have high blood pressure and not feel any different or experience any symptoms. Luckily monitoring of blood pressure is a routine examination carried out by most GP’s.

You may have heard of ‘white coat syndrome’, in which an individual who does not ordinarily have high blood pressure presents with hypertension when a GP measures it in their clinic. This can be induced by factors such as stress and anxiety.

Conversely, there is another phenomenon termed masked hypertension in which an individual will present with normal blood pressure when measured by their GP in the clinic, however outside of the clinic in their day-to-day activities, they have an elevated blood pressure.

Masked hypertension may be due to stressful environments at home or work, low cardiovascular fitness or poor lifestyle habits. Masked hypertension has much the same effects and prognosis as sustained hypertension, although due to its difficulty to detect may remain untreated for long periods.

An Exercise Physiologist may be able to assist in identifying masked hypertension by conducting a low intensity exercise test, which simulates day to day activity, and monitoring how your cardiovascular system responds. If there are any abnormalities detected they can communicate with your GP and initiate an intervention such as lifestyle, exercise/diet, or medication changes.

If you are someone who has risk factors such as diabetes, kidney disease, a family history of cardiovascular disease, or simply want to know more about your risk of masked hypertension please feel free to contact one of the Exercise Physiologists at Optimum Health Solutions.

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