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MAIN Arrow to Health Health Arrow to High Blood Pressure High Blood Pressure - Hypertension

According to the American Heart Association, approximately 1 in 3 adults in the United States suffers from high blood pressure.

What exactly is blood pressure?

Blood pressure is the force of the blood pushing against the arterial walls as the heart pumps blood. This is known as systolic pressure. When the heart is at rest between beats it is known as diastolic pressure. When blood pressure is recorded, the systolic pressure is designated by the top number with the diastolic being displayed as the bottom number.

High blood pressure is considered to be greater than or equal to 140 mm Hg systolic pressure or 90 mm Hg diastolic pressure. People are often unaware that they have high blood pressure since there are no apparent symptoms. This is why high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is often referred to as "the silent killer."

The health risks of high blood pressure

Main complications of persistent high blood pressure

Hypertension can occur in anyone of any age but is more common in the elderly, those who are overweight, or those who may have other existing health conditions. People who suffer from high blood pressure have an increased risk of heart attack, stroke and kidney disease.

It is important to know your blood pressure and have it checked periodically. Those with hypertension should have their pressure monitored on a regular basis. Medication may be prescribed to control high blood pressure. The type of medication your physician prescribes may depend upon any accompanying underlying health conditions and may include diuretics, beta-blockers, alpha-blockers, ACE inhibitors or calcium channel blockers.

How to lower the risk of high blood pressure

People who smoke, drink or eat a high cholesterol diet increase their risk of high blood pressure. It may be necessary to take steps to lower your blood pressure by changing some of your long established habits. In some cases, simple changes in diet can control high blood pressure.

If you are overweight and suffering from hypertension, talk to your physician about creating a healthy weight loss plan. Eat healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables. Limit intake of salt, caffeine and alcohol. Smokers should consider quitting. Smoking increases blood pressure and the risk of heart disease.

Life can be stressful and people often find themselves living in a state of chronic stress which adds to the problem of hypertension. Although we may not be able to totally eliminate stress from our lives, we can learn helpful stress management techniques.

At work, learn time management skills and don't take on more than you can handle. Meditation techniques can also be helpful in relieving stress. Although high blood pressure is a problem that afflicts many people, it is a condition that can be successfully controlled with lifestyle changes if caught in time.

More about high blood pressure around the Web:

American Heart Association - High Blood Pressure - Information central for blood pressure facts, information and guides with the latest news, treatment options, diet and exercise tips, busy online forum, free newsletter.

High Blood Pressure: Things You Can Do to Help Lower Yours - Good fact sheet on causes, diet options, the effects of alcohol and smoking, and information on traditional drug treatments with related resources.

High Blood Pressure Diet Recipes and Menus - Low fat and low sodium recipes with complete ingredients and instructions plus an archive of related articles, FAQs and health tips.

This information is intended as reference and not as medical advice.
All treatment decisions should be made by medical professionals.

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