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Thanks to a discount provided by Genworth Life and Annuity, since I have life insurance through them, and thanks to my wife who doesn’t want me to die because she likes my blogs more than anything she can find on Oprah.com, I had a screening today of my carotid artery for any blockage, the aorta for any sign of aortic aneurysms, and I had my blood pressure measured on both arms and both legs to check for any indication of peripheral vascular disease.

Now, any one of those things could be a silent killer. Certainly they are things that can get to the point of bursting, blocking or otherwise causing damage that can kill you, and do it in a very quick fashion, all with no symptoms to warn you to run for cover. The one that actually captured the nickname though is high blood pressure.

Why the silent killer? It seems that, according to the American Heart Association, one in three Americans have high blood pressure and one third of those aren’t aware of it because there are no symptoms and (probably because they are guys) they never get checkups. So why is high blood pressure a big deal?

Have I ever talked about risk factors? In case you missed it the most recent 100 times, the answer is yes. One instance of high blood pressure is generally not going to be much to write home about, but constant high blood pressure can cause a number of collateral health issues. The American Heart Association provides us a high blood pressure health risk calculator . Plug yourself in and find out where you stand when it comes to risk of heart attack, stroke, heart failure and kidney disease. Play with the weight a few times and see how obesity affects things.

Life insurance underwriters aren’t concerned with the small picture and isolated incidents. They are concerned with what happens if you don’t know about your blood pressure problem, or if you do know but aren’t doing all you can to control it.

Bottom line. Give it some thought. If it is a silent killer and you don’t want to die unexpectedly, maybe you ought to learn more. Test your high blood pressure IQ and then plan on getting a checkup. Living life to the fullest sometimes means you have to check the oil (or something like that).