High blood pressure is a perfect example of "silent but deadly." It doesn't show symptoms until later stages when it's already done significant harm to your health and your body.
And to make it worse, high blood pressure is more common than ever, and due to in-clinic medical costs, people are going to the doctor less often - which means they don't get diagnosed or receive the proper monitoring and control.
In the US, one out of every three adults has high blood pressure. Worried that you or a loved one are one of them? Read about risk factors and what affordable tests you can order to test your exposure, below.
High Blood Pressure Symptoms
Like we said above, by the time you have noticeable symptoms, like the few below, your high blood pressure is doing significant damage to your body.
You may have advanced high blood pressure and correlating health issues if you often have:
- Unexplained stomach issues
- Shortness of breath
- Increased heart rate
- High cholesterol levels
Since high blood pressure symptoms can lie dormant for so long, it's better to find out your diagnosis and risk as soon as possible. See if you identify with any of the risk factors for developing high blood pressure, below.
Risk factors don't determine whether or not you contract a disease. They're simply factors that make developing that disease more likely.
These factors are also cumulative, meaning the more you have, the higher your risk is. If you find yourself represented in two or more of the elements below, order a screening test now.
Blood pressure rises with age. It's natural and to be expected, but something to keep an eye on. Men have a higher risk of high blood pressure than women before age 64, but women's risk starts to catch up around age 65.
Though many studies have suggested that high blood pressure in African Americans is due more to socioeconomic differences and stresses than differentiating physical characteristics, people of color are more likely to have high blood pressure and correlating complications.
Worried you're at risk for high blood pressure? Take a look at your family tree. Like many other biological conditions and illnesses, blood pressure risk can be passed from generation to generation.
If you don't know about your parent's health and aren't able to ask them, you can be the first generation to discover genetic risk.
Being Overweight or Obese
The more you weigh, the harder your body has to work to complete daily and regulatory functions. High blood pressure is sensitive to stress, including the biological stresses being overweight puts on your systems.
Losing weight is an effective way to lower high blood pressure and reduce the risk of developing it in the future.
Not Being Active
Obesity and a sedentary lifestyle go hand in hand. So, it shouldn't be surprising that not getting enough exercise, even if it's something as simple as walking, is related to high blood pressure.
Eating better, losing weight, and moving around more are all lifestyle changes that can reduce your risk.
If you're an adult who smokes, you're at a higher risk for a large number of health issues. High blood pressure is one of them - even if it's second-hand smoke.
If you've been looking for a reason to quit, here's another one: smoking is bad for your heart.
A Sodium-Filled Diet
Americans eat about 50% more sodium, on average, than is medically recommended. Salt causes your body to retain fluid, which raises your blood pressure.
Eating more whole foods and cooking your own meals is an excellent way to reduce sodium intake.
Too Little Potassium
Even if you were eating the recommended amount of salt, if you're not getting enough potassium, you're still putting yourself at risk.
Potassium helps the body process (get rid of) salt, and when there's not enough, sodium stays in the body, keeping your blood pressure higher for longer.
Having more than one drink a day for women, and more than two a day for men can raise your risk of developing high blood pressure.
Drink responsibly and make sure you watch your serving sizes - your heart health will thank you.
High blood pressure is directly related to high levels of stress. When you're stressed, your body essentially reverts back to the primal fight-or-flight mode, which keeps you on high alert.
Your body isn't made to stay in that highly-alert stage for more than a few minutes at a time without long periods of relaxation in between.
When you're overstressed or stressed often, it tires out your body and causes it to produce more of the stress hormone cortisol.
Cortisol is linked to high blood pressure, weight gain/the inability to lose weight, trouble sleeping, mental disorders, and a long list of other unpleasant side effects.
Making time to unwind and relax won't just reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure, it could change your life.
If you have a chronic illness, such as diabetes, kidney disease, or sleep apnea (which are all correlated with being overweight or sedentary), you're at a higher risk of high blood pressure at well.
Thankfully, those managing other chronic conditions are more likely to see their doctor often, and get diagnosed or warned about blood pressure levels before the general public. It's a little bit of a silver lining.
Do you have more than two of the risk factors above? Worried you already have or are at risk for high blood pressure? You can order tests from the comfort of your own home.
Learn which tests to order (and what the results mean), below.
Lab Tests for High Blood Pressure
There are things you can do to lower your risk of developing high blood pressure and reduce already high levels - but you can't do them if you don't know! Get clued in by ordering a...
1. Lipid Panel with Ratios
Lipids are fat-like substances in your body that makeup and communicate between cells. This test takes a sample of the lipids in your blood and looks at the different levels of each type.
While a lipid panel isn't going to give you a blood pressure reading like an arm cuff would, it will tell you if you have high cholesterol, which is correlated with high blood pressure and increases your risk of heart disease.
2. Apolipoprotein B
Apo B is a substance that metabolizes other lipids (like cholesterol), helping them stay at healthy levels in your blood. A deficiency of Apo-B shows a higher risk for high blood pressure and heart disease.
Order this test if you have a family history of heart disease, or suspect you do.
3. C-Reactive Protein (hs-CRP)
This test is usually ordered in combination with other heart-disease related tests and is associated with the amount of infection or inflammation in the blood.
Those with atherosclerosis, which is a side effect of high cholesterol, are likely to have a high level of CRP, which gives doctors a reason to suspect high blood pressure risk.
4. Lipoprotein Subfraction Analysis
We've talked a little about what lipids are, and lipoproteins are similar, but not identical. However, like lipids, they can educate us about heart disease and high blood pressure risks.
This test uses gel electrophoresis to separate different lipoproteins found in the blood look at their sizes, their levels, and their classes.
Results from this test can show heightened cholesterol levels (a blood pressure risk) and identifiers of other lipid disorders.
5. Lipoprotein A
This is another test to order if you have or suspect a family history of cardiovascular disease. Additionally, it's often ordered after a heart attack, stroke, or if your doctor suspects you have high cholesterol.
It's often ordered in combination with a lipid panel, or some of the tests above.
If your doctor is worried about frequent nosebleeds (a progressed symptom of high blood pressure), your risk of life-threatening blood clots, or any bleeding disorders, they'll order a Fibrinogen test.
It looks at the coagulation of your blood, how well it clots, and the amount of functional and dysfunctional Fribrinogen in your blood.
Your test results will have a translation of what these levels mean for your health included.
There are tens, if not hundreds, of reasons to order a CBC or a complete blood count test. It's a part of routine medical exams if your doctor suspects any blood-related disorders.
That could be anything from cholesterol, anemia, unexplained inflammation, or when tracking treatments for long-term diseases, like HIV and cancer.
Our test includes both platelets and differential counts, but not all do - so double check before you order, it'll save you money in the long run.
8. Comprehensive Metabolic Panel
No process in your body operates separately from another. That's to say that your metabolic hormones are relevant when assessing heart disease, just as they're relevant when looking at something separate, like unexplained weight gain.
This panel will give you results including
- Protein levels
- Carbon dioxide
- Kidney disease tests
- Liver tests
- Electrolyte levels
If you're going to get any one comprehensive test, this is the one to purchase. You're getting ten or more tests for the price of one, even if that price is higher than other tests on this list.
If you recall, sodium levels, potassium levels, and kidney issues are all risk factors for developing high blood pressure.
9. Apolipoprotein A1
There are two types of cholesterol. HDL is "good" or "protective" and LDL, which is a health risk. This test measures the amount of good cholesterol in your blood.
Having more Apolipoprotein A1 is a protective factor, which can reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure. Order an APO AI screening, here.
10. Complete Urinalysis
If your doctor suspects you have kidney issues, which are related to high blood pressure, they'll order a urinalysis. This is one of the most uncomplicated and painless tests to order.
Learn if you're at risk for kidney disorders, and therefore high blood pressure, with this test.
We touched on what cortisol does in the body, above. It's a stress hormone, and it's related to a host of unpleasant health issues.
Higher cortisol issues put you at a higher risk for developing cardiovascular problems, including (but not limited to) high blood pressure. Learn how you're managing your stress by ordering this total Cortisol test, here.
12. Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone
If you're experiencing shortness of breath and a rapid heart rate, it could be high blood pressure or hyperthyroidism.
Running a TSH test will help figure out which of these likely causes are behind your symptoms, and your doctor can suggest treatment from there.
Another lipid-related test, an LP-PLA2, tests your phospholipase A2 enzyme levels. Too much can be indicative of inflammation, especially atherosclerosis.
This is a general cardiovascular disease risk screening test, perfect for those wanting to learn about their general heart health, who don't have a specific disorder they want to test for in mind. Order this test, here.
14. Urine Albumin-Creatinine Ratio
Albumin is a protein in your blood that gets filtered out in the kidneys. If your kidneys are functioning well, and you don't have kidney problems, diabetes, or high blood pressure, there should be almost none in your urine.
Finding albumin in urine is indicative of the above problems. Creatinine is a standard urine component, and normal levels suggest a healthy metabolic system. See how your kidneys are faring by testing your ALB levels, now.
15. APOE Genotyping
APOE tests help us better understand how genetic cardiovascular factors are represented in an individual.
The screening looks for different alleles (e2, e3, e4 on chromosome 19q3.2), which are genetic components related to cardiovascular disease risk, including high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Ordering High Blood Pressure Tests Online
There you have it, 15 tests you can order if you suspect you're at risk for high blood pressure or want a range of general health indicators. If you're tired of waiting around at the doctor or have restrictive copays, our services can help.
The process is simple. You order the test online, have the test done at any one of thousands of different professional diagnostic testing centers, and review your test results typically in 1 to 2 days after your blood is collected. We'll notify you when they're ready, and you'll find everything you need in your private health portal. You can then share these results with your doctor or loved ones.
When it comes to assessing your high blood pressure risk and status, it's better to know!