Hypertension

Stephen Payne, MD -  - Family Medicine

Stephen Payne, MD

Family Medicine located in Williamstown, MA

Hypertension is a dangerous health condition that’s frequently called the “silent killer” because it often has no symptoms until severe damage occurs. In Williamstown, Massachusetts, Stephen Payne, MD has more than 30 years of experience in family medicine, both preventing hypertension and managing existing chronic high blood pressure conditions. Protect your heart health by scheduling a physical exam with Dr. Payne today. Call the office or book an appointment online.

Hypertension Q & A

What is hypertension?

Hypertension, or high blood pressure (HPB), is the result of your blood pressure being elevated for an extended period.

As your heart pumps oxygen-rich blood through your capillaries, veins, and arteries, it exerts force against your blood vessels. When this pressure remains high for long periods of time, it causes your heart and blood vessels to work harder.

Over time, damage occurs within your arteries from the strain. Plaque and bad (LDL) cholesterol collect within these tears, and your arteries begin to narrow. When your arteries shrink, it forces your heart to work even harder, raising your blood pressure more.

What are the risks associated with hypertension?

When your blood pressure remains high for an extended period, it strains your system and increases your risk of several conditions, including:

  • Aneurysm
  • Heart attack
  • Heart failure
  • Enlarged heart
  • Arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat)

Hypertension can also lead to problems with other organ systems in your body. Your brain is at an increased risk of stroke, cognitive impairment, and dementia. Your kidneys can develop scarring, aneurysms, and even fail.

Hypertension can also cause damage to the blood vessels in your eyes, fluid buildup under your retina, and sometimes optic neuropathy (nerve damage).

What causes hypertension?

If you have primary, or essential, hypertension, there’s no obvious cause, and it develops slowly over time. In secondary hypertension, your high blood pressure occurs suddenly because of another condition, such as certain medications or alcohol and drug abuse.

Additional factors leading to hypertension include:

  • Diabetes
  • Sleep apnea
  • High-stress lifestyles
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Sedentary lifestyles
  • Diets high in salt and low in potassium and vitamin D
  • Kidney or thyroid disease

Your risks of developing hypertension increase as you age;  approximately nine in 10 Americans experience high blood pressure during their lifetime.

How is hypertension treated?

Dr. Payne typically uses a combination of medications and lifestyle modifications to control hypertension. These might include:

  • Stress management techniques
  • Weight loss plans
  • Dietary changes
  • Exercises to increase fitness

To ensure your condition is effectively managed, Dr. Payne closely monitors your health through regular physical exams and testing that might include stress tests, electrocardiograms, and echocardiograms.

Call Stephen Payne, MD, or schedule an appointment online today to see if you’re at risk for hypertension.