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The High Risks Of Hypertension

Written by S.O.

Posted on January 14, 2016 at 3:13 pm

Hypertension

Blood Pressure (BP) is calculated by measuring the force of blood coursing your arteries as your heart is pumping, called systolic pressure, over your diastolic pressure, the force of blood flow through the arteries while your heart is relaxed and refilling. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, consists of a chronic BP reading of 140/90 or higher (www.heart.org). According to the American Heart Association, over 80 million Americans have been diagnosed with high blood pressure.

Devil May Care

Everyone knows that high blood pressure is problematic, but the complications are more dangerous than we may think. Unfortunately, not every one properly heeds their doctor’s warnings of high blood pressure. Often when a person is diagnosed, they just stick the information on the dusty top shelf of their mind, and continue on with everyday business. However, nonchalance certainly is not the attitude any of us should be taking toward Hypertension.

The Silent Killer

Hypertension has been deemed ‘the silent killer’ for a reason. Most people have no symptoms as their pressure gradually climbs to unhealthy heights, putting the body in danger. According to Kathy Berra, clinical director of the Stanford Heart Network at the Stanford University School of Medicine, “Many people assume you will get a headache or some other kind of signal when blood pressure is high, unfortunately, this is rarely the case. Often, the first sign of unknown or untreated high blood pressure is a stroke, a heart attack, or kidney disease.” This is a scary notion to say the least.

Are You At Risk?

Even though hypertension is an intruder of the silent variety, there are some risk factors that can let you know if you are in danger of developing the condition. The World Heart Federation states that “Lifestyle and genealogy are significant contributors to high blood pressure. One can inherit it from parents and grandparents, but diet, tobacco use, stress levels, and lack of exercise are the leading causes.”

Comorbid Culprits

Aside from the disease itself, unchecked chronically elevated BP levels can also lead to other conditions such as kidney damage and failure, transient ischemic attacks (mini stokes), or even full blown strokes. Hypertension can also lead to potentially fatal heart problems including atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries due to fatty buildup), and congestive heart failure. Also, the World Heart Association has established a strong link between chronically elevated blood pressure and diabetes. These are just a few of the many comorbid conditions that go hand in hand with high blood pressure.

What Can You Do?

There are many things we can do to prevent hypertension, or help reverse the condition. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, some of the things you can do to manage your blood pressure include maintaining a healthy diet and weight, quitting smoking, keeping alcohol consumption at a low-to-moderate level, exercising regularly, as well as keeping stress levels under control.

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommends a nutritive system developed by their research teams called the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (or the DASH eating plan), to help prevent or reverse high blood pressure. This diet centers mainly around vegetables, fruit, certain dairy products, whole grains, fish, poultry and seeds or nuts. It also advises limiting intake of sugar, red meat and excess sodium.

Check Your Numbers

Every adult should have their blood pressure checked at their next routine check-up to ensure there are no red flags. By checking your BP every now and then, you could avoid years of silent damage. You can check your blood pressure for free at most pharmacies, or you can buy a home blood pressure monitor. Stanford University’s Kathy Berra maintains that if you suspect, or have been told by your doctor that you have issues with blood pressure, the best course of action is to start checking and recording it yourself regularly.

Sources:

The World Heart Federation: http://www.world-heart-federation.org/

The University of Maryland Medical Center: https://umm.edu/health/medical/reports/articles/high-blood-pressure

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/dashdiet.html

The American Heart Association: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/WhyBloodPressureMatters/Why-Blood-Pressure-Matters_UCM_002051_Article.jsp

Bewell @ Stanford University: https://bewell.stanford.edu/blood-pressure

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