We have all heard the terms ‘hypertension’ or ‘high blood pressure’ It is a widely diagnosed medical condition, yet there is a surprisingly large amount of misinformation about it.
Hypertension increases the risk for heart disease, stroke and kidney failure. So, it is important to dispel the myths surrounding it. Being aware could save your or your loved one’s life.
What is hypertension?
Blood pressure is a measurement of the force that blood applies against the walls of your blood vessels as it flows through them. If you have high blood pressure, it means your blood is putting too much strain on the walls of your arteries. The condition wherein you have persistently elevated blood pressure levels is called hypertension.
What are some myths about hypertension?
Myth 1: You would know if you have high blood pressure, because you’d experience its symptoms
This is the most dangerous misconception that people have about hypertension. There’s a reason doctors refer to it as a silent, invisible killer. In most cases, hypertension develops gradually, over the course of several years, and rarely shows any warning signs or symptoms.
This is why early detection is crucial, and why you should get your blood pressure checked regularly during doctor’s visits.
Myth 2: Hypertension cannot be prevented
There is, unfortunately, no cure for hypertension. But, even if you have the risk factors, it can be managed effectively–and even prevented–through healthy lifestyle choices. The American Heart Association’s recommendations on this include the following:
- Eating a balanced diet that is low in salt and cholesterol-rich foods
- Getting regular physical exercise
- Quitting smoking
- Limiting your alcohol intake
- Maintaining a healthy body weight
Myth 3: If you have a family history of hypertension and inherit it, then there’s nothing you can do about it
You may not be able to avoid inheriting hypertension, but you can certainly manage it by adopting a healthy lifestyle. Include the habits mentioned above in your everyday routine to control your blood pressure and keep it within a healthy range.
Myth 4: If you don’t put extra salt in your food, you are not at risk
Most of your salt intake doesn’t come from what you put in your food, but from what is added to food products during manufacturing. Look for words like ‘sodium’ and ‘Na’ on food labels while buying groceries to know the item’s salt content.
Myth 5: If you don’t smoke and are not overweight, you won’t have high blood pressure
Smoking and being overweight are risk factors for hypertension. If you don’t smoke and your weight is within the healthy range, you might assume that you are not at risk of having high blood pressure. But, that is not true. Other factors, such as genetics and a sedentary lifestyle, can still cause hypertension.
Myth 6: If you are young, you don’t have to worry about hypertension
Many people assume that hypertension is something you have to worry about only after you’re 40 years old. Though the risk increases with age, people can develop hypertension at any time, even as children. 
Myth 7: Your blood pressure can only be checked at the doctor’s
Not only can you check your blood pressure at home, but it is also important that you do so regularly, especially if you have been diagnosed with hypertension. By regularly tracking your blood pressure levels with a good monitoring device, you become aware of patterns and changes, and you learn how your lifestyle, habits, and medication affects it.
Myth 8: Once medication lowers your blood pressure, you can stop taking it or adjust your doses
It is never a good idea to self-diagnose without medical supervision. Always consult your doctor before you change your medication. If you have severe hypertension, your doctor may recommend medication for a prolonged period of time.
Myth 9: If you only experience ‘white-coat’ hypertension, it’s not a cause for worry
In some instances, you might be particularly stressed during a doctor’s appointment, resulting in an abnormally high blood pressure reading when your levels are otherwise normal. This is known as white coat hypertension. This condition is worrisome because people with white coat hypertension face a higher risk of developing high blood pressure in the future. 
- American Heart Association. Changes You Can Make to Manage High Blood Pressure. Available at: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/changes-you-can-make-to-manage-high-blood-pressure [Accessed 18 April 2019].
- Rush University Medical Center. Myths About High Blood Pressure. Available at: https://www.rush.edu/health-wellness/discover-health/high-blood-pressure-myths [Accessed 19 April 2019].