Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a risk factor for heart disease and the most important risk factor for stroke. When your blood pressure is high, it means your heart is working harder to pump blood to your organs. If left untreated, this added strain can cause damage to the heart and arteries, resulting in serious danger.
The University of Kansas Health System offers specialized services for people with hypertension in Kansas City. Our team of specialists works together to diagnose all the possible causes of your hypertension and develop the most effective treatment plan.
What is hypertension?
About 1 in 3 U.S. adults has hypertension. When left untreated, hypertension can lead to heart attack, stroke, heart failure and kidney failure. Controlling your blood pressure is the best way to prevent these outcomes.
Hypertension is referred to as "resistant" or "complex" when you are not able to control it with 3 or more medications at the right dosage. Up to 1 in 5 people with hypertension has a resistant form. Their risk for significant complications is much higher than for those who are able to control their blood pressure.
Hypertension symptoms and risks
Certain contributing factors may increase your risk of hypertension. These include:
- Diet issues
- Endocrine problems
- Family history
- Fibromuscular dysplasia
- Hardening of arteries
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Problems with the kidneys and their arteries
If you have high blood pressure, you may experience symptoms such as:
- Blue lips or fingernails
- Chest pain or pressure
- Fainting or dizziness
- Fast heartbeat
- Pain in the upper-right abdomen
- Shortness of breath
- Swelling of the legs or ankles
Hypertension diagnosis and screening
Hypertension can be diagnosed by taking your blood pressure. A blood pressure reading measures systolic pressure and diastolic pressure.
- Systolic refers to the maximum pressure in your heartbeats.
- Diastolic pressure refers to the lowest pressure in your arteries between heartbeats.
Typically, a person under age 60 who has 3 blood pressure readings of 120/80 is said to have hypertension. For people over 60, a reading of 120/80 qualifies as high blood pressure.
Treatment for your hypertension depends on the cause(s). It may include:
- Adjusting your lifestyle
- Changing your medications
- Managing your diet
- Treating the underlying conditions that are causing your hypertension
As our patient, you'll have access to all the health professionals you need in a single place. A nurse will talk with you and gather your past test results before your first visit. If you need more tests, we will order them ahead of time so our doctors will have the information they need to begin your diagnosis and treatment. The test requested may include drawing blood, ordering imaging tests for your heart and kidneys or asking you to wear a continuous blood pressure monitor.
A team of healthcare experts will look into the many possible causes of your hypertension. This team includes a vascular physician, a nephrologist (kidney doctor), a dietitian, a pharmacist and a nurse practitioner. Other specialists such as endocrinologists and vascular surgeons are also available to help. They work together to identify the causes of your disease, treat them and adjust your medications accordingly.
Once we have diagnosed your condition and recommended treatment, you will go back to your primary doctor for ongoing care.
Why choose us for hypertension treatment
The University of Kansas Health System is a leader in the prevention and treatment of heart disease. Our experienced physicians, leading-edge technologies and exceptional facilities are some of the reasons why our quality outcomes are among the best in the country. To put it simply: More people who come here live.
Leaders in prevention and treatment
- Our partners at the University of Kansas Medical Center are known for innovative research on heart disease.
- Our risk reduction services are devoted to helping people take control of their heart health.
- We participate in a variety of clinical trials to improve prevention and treatment of heart disease.
- Our advanced MRI and CT angiography provide more detailed images for better detection and accurate diagnosis.
- We have hybrid suites that can accommodate both minimally invasive procedures as well as complex surgeries. This eliminates the need to move patients to another room in the event of a medical emergency, and ensures fast, immediate care.
- We offer a dedicated vascular ultrasound laboratory.
Quality of care
- Although we take care of sicker patients, our mortality rate for heart attack patients is better than the national standard.
- Our interventional specialists open blocked arteries faster than national standards.
- Our patients experience fewer complications than the national average.
- People who come to us after a heart attack are more likely to survive.