High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, affects millions of people worldwide and can have a significant impact on a person’s overall health and well-being. While many people are aware of the link between high blood pressure and heart disease, stroke, and other serious conditions, fewer people realize that hypertension can also affect wound healing.
Throughout this article, we will take a look at how hypertension can impact the wound healing process, and offer tips for promoting faster healing and reducing the risk of complications if you have high blood pressure and are dealing with a wound.
Understanding Hypertension and Blood Pressure
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a condition in which the force of blood against the walls of your arteries is too high. Blood pressure is typically measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and is characterized by two numbers: systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Systolic blood pressure represents the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats, while diastolic blood pressure represents the pressure when your heart rests between beats. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), normal blood pressure would typically be measured at 120/80 mmHg.
Signs and Symptoms of Hypertension
Hypertension often presents no symptoms, which is why it is sometimes referred to as the “silent killer.” However, in some cases, people with high blood pressure may experience symptoms such as headaches, shortness of breath, nosebleeds, or chest pain. If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Common Causes of High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure usually develops over time and can be caused by a number of different factors, including genetics, lifestyle choices, as well as underlying health conditions. Common risk factors for hypertension can include age, family history, being overweight or obese, smoking, a sedentary lifestyle, a diet high in salt and low in potassium, as well as chronic conditions such as diabetes.
Hypertension, Diabetes and Wound Healing
Hypertension and diabetes often go hand-in-hand, as people with diabetes are more likely to develop high blood pressure. According to John Hopkins Medicine, “high blood pressure is twice as likely to strike a person with diabetes than a person without diabetes.” This is because high blood sugar levels can damage the blood vessels and nerves that control blood pressure. Additionally, excess weight and an unhealthy lifestyle, both of which are risk factors for diabetes, can also contribute to the development of high blood pressure. If you are suffering from hypertension and diabetes, it’s important to work closely with your doctor to manage both conditions, as uncontrolled high blood pressure can increase the risk of complications such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and diabetic retinopathy.
Hypertension and Wound Healing
Any condition that impairs blood circulation can impair the healing process. While many associate this with conditions such as diabetes, the same can be said about hypertension.
When you have a wound, your body needs to deliver oxygen and nutrients to the injury to promote healing. High blood pressure can make it harder for blood to flow through the small blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients to the site of the wound. This can slow down the healing process and increase the risk of complications, such as infection.
In fact, a recent study explored the potential role of hypertension on wound healing among patients with total hip arthroplasty. They found that hypertensive patients experienced prolonged wound healing, putting them at a greater risk of infection.
High Blood Pressure and Wound Management
If you have high blood pressure and are dealing with a wound, it’s crucial to manage your blood pressure to promote faster healing and reduce the risk of complications. While your wound care specialist can provide recommendations and outline a treatment plan to follow, there are several steps you can take that could help:
- Monitor your blood pressure regularly: Work with your wound care specialist to monitor your blood pressure regularly and keep it within a healthy range.
- Follow a healthy diet: Eating a diet that is low in sodium and high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats can help to manage your blood pressure and promote faster wound healing.
- Get regular exercise: Regular exercise can help manage your blood pressure and promote blood flow to the wound. That said, make sure to consult your wound specialist before starting any exercise program, and what activities to avoid that may increase your risk of injury or further damage to the wound.
- Manage stress: Stress can contribute to high blood pressure and even impair wound healing. Practicing stress-management techniques such as mindfulness meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises can help.
- Avoiding alcohol and tobacco: Both alcohol and tobacco can put you at an increased risk of high blood pressure and interfere with the body’s ability to heal.
- Take medications as prescribed: If lifestyle changes alone are not sufficient your doctor may prescribe medications to lower your blood pressure. Make sure to take them as prescribed and follow the dosing instructions carefully.
- Practice proper wound care techniques: Make sure to follow your wound specialist’s instructions for proper wound care and management, and contact them immediately if you notice any signs of infection. Depending on your injury this may include keeping the wound site clean and dry to help reduce the risk of infection and promote faster healing.
If you or a loved one has suffered a wound and are concerned about your blood pressure our expert team can help. At West Coast Wound Center, we understand how overall well-being can impact wound healing and value the whole patient’s health, not just the wound. That’s why we take a holistic approach to wound care, considering the whole person — body, mind, spirit, and emotions — in the quest for optimal health and wellness. Book an appointment at our wound care center today and let us put you on the path to healing.