Transient elevations in systolic blood pressure occur as normal adaptations during fever, physical exertion, and emotional upset, such as during anger and fear. Persistent hypertension, or high blood pressure, is common in obese people because the total length of their blood vessels is relatively greater than that in thinner individuals. Although hypertension is usually asymptomatic for the first 10 to 20 years, it slowly but surely strains the heart and damages the arteries. For this reason, hypertension is often called the “silent killer”.
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