Why High Blood Pressure Is Called A ‘Silent Killer’

High blood pressure simply means that blood flows through the arteries at a high pressure, exerting a ‘higher than normal’ force on the walls of the blood vessels.

Medically, high blood pressure is called ‘hypertension’, and it is a major cause of death and disability worldwide.

According to the World Health Organization, up to 40% of adults around the globe have hypertension. This is an extremely scary statistic, especially because of how deadly it could be if left unattended to. In fact, hypertension is estimated to cause 7.5 million deaths worldwide each year or about 12.5% of all deaths.

So, seeing how deadly it is, everyone should know enough about this condition, try to spread the word that people should know their pressures, and encourage those who have been diagnosed with it to seek immediate care and treatment.

One popular question you may get from friends and relatives when discussing hypertension is:

“How does a person know he or she has hypertension?”

Well, this is exactly what I’ll be explaining in this article, we’ll discuss why it is called a silent killer, what its symptoms are, what causes it, and what a person who’s diagnosed with it can do to lead a healthy life.

The Silent Killer- Hypertension

The main reason why hypertension is called a silent killer is that a lot of the times it has no symptom. So what this means is that a person can have a high blood pressure and not have any clue about what’s going on in their cardiovascular system.

A lot of the times, high blood pressure is incidentally found during clinic visits for a sometimes unrelated complain or disease.

To emphasize the steps health workers take in preventing this ‘silent killer’ from wreaking any havoc, blood pressure is one of the vital signs taken before any patient sees a doctor in the emergency room or clinic.

It is called a vital sign, along with body temperature, the pulse rate, and breathing rate. Even if you came to complain about a two-day-old cough, there are high chances that you’ll get your blood pressure checked before you walk into the doctor’s office.

I know you’re probably thinking: Is there any other way to know if a person has a high blood pressure? Are there no symptoms at all? Well, the truth is that there are. But by the time a high blood pressure starts causing symptoms, it is often very high.

Symptoms of High Blood Pressure

When blood pressure is extremely high, it may show some symptoms. These symptoms are:

  • Severe headache
  • Chest pain
  • Poor vision
  • A pounding feeling in the chest and neck
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Irregular heartbeats

I must still emphasize that a person should not wait for hypertensive symptoms, as these symptoms pop up quite late. So, it is vital that you check your blood pressure routinely, even if you feel completely fine.

What Do Blood Pressure Readings Mean?

When a health worker wants to check your blood pressure, a manual sphygmomanometer with a stethoscope can be used. There are also electronic ones that are faster (although sometimes less reliable).

Normal blood pressure for both males and females are:

Males- 120/80 mmHg

Females- 110/70 mmHg


When the first number (also called systolic blood pressure) is greater than 130 mmHg, or if the second number (also called diastolic blood pressure) is greater than 80, a person is said to have high blood pressure.

Note: Hypertension isn’t diagnosed from just one blood pressure reading, it has to be repeatedly raised on blood pressure checks on different days before hypertension can be confirmed.

What Causes Hypertension?

The actual cause of high blood pressure is still unknown to science. However, there are some risk factors that raise the chances that a person will have hypertension. Here are the risk factors:

  • An unhealthy diet
  • High salt intake in meals
  • Lack of physical exercise
  • Stress
  • Obesity
  • Older age
  • Family history (when a direct family member is hypertensive)
  • Excessive alcohol intake
  • Tobacco smoking

What To Do If You’re Hypertensive

If your doctor just said you’re hypertensive, one thing you should know is that you can still lead a normal life. Here are some tips for you:

  • Take your medications if prescribed. Don’t skip any days.
  • Visit your doctor routinely, and attend scheduled appointments
  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Increase your physical exercise levels
  • Decrease your salt intake
  • Decrease your alcohol consumption
  • If you’re overweight or obese, discuss with your doctor about steps to lose weight.
  • Quit smoking

There are many people who are hypertensive but won’t develop a stroke or heart problems due to how well they were compliant with their doctor’s advice about coping with hypertension. If you have been diagnosed with hypertension, you too can lead a normal life by following the aforementioned tips.