Disease State - Hypertension
There is a condition that affects as many as 50 million Americans and can lead to stroke, heart disease, and kidney failure, yet rarely shows any symptoms. It's called high blood pressure (HBP) or hypertension. The good news is that it is possible to prevent HBP and also to control it.
We all have blood pressure. When the heart pumps blood to all parts of the body, it creates pressure from the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries. This pressure is called blood pressure.
When your healthcare provider takes your blood pressure, she places a cuff around your arm above your elbow, pumps air into the cuff, and records two measurements.
The first measurement is called the systolic pressure and it measures the pressure or force on the walls of the blood vessels as the heart is pumping or contracting with each heartbeat. This is the first number of the blood pressure reading and is the highest number.
The second measurement is called the diastolic pressure and it measures the lowest pressure the blood places on the walls of the blood vessels when the heart is relaxed between beats. This is the second number of the blood pressure reading and is the lowest.
Your blood pressure doesn't remain the same, changing constantly from day to day and moment to moment, according to your body's needs. Although, for some people blood pressure can be abnormally high and can cause health risks.
If the first number of the blood pressure reading (systolic pressure) is too high, it could indicate a strain on the blood vessels when the heart is attempting to pump blood into your bloodstream. If the second number (diastolic pressure) is too high, it could be an indication that the blood vessels have little time to relax between heartbeats.
The average blood pressure for an adult is 120/80, though a slightly higher or lower number may not be a problem. When the systolic blood pressure rises above 140, and the diastolic pressure rises above 90, some form of treatment is needed.
Lifestyle Modifications - Hypertension
There are changes you can make in your lifestyle that can help prevent high blood pressure.
Medications are available to help control high blood pressure.
- Exercise: Regular exercise contributes to a healthy body. It also can help to lower mildly-elevated blood pressure and maintain weight. Walking, cycling, or swimming (aerobic exercise) for 20-30 minutes, three times a week is considered to be the optimal workout.
- Diet: It is recommended that you decrease your intake of salt, as studies have shown that consuming lots of salt increases your blood pressure in some people. A high fat diet can also affect blood pressure, especially if it leads to eating too many calories and gaining weight. Try and limit your fat intake to less than 30% of your daily calories. Potassium has been shown to help keep blood pressure in the normal range. Eating three to five servings of fruits and vegetables per day can guarantee that your diet is high in potassium.
- Weight: Those people whose weight is 20% or more above their ideal weight are at a greater risk to develop HBP. Losing weight at a moderate pace can help to lower blood pressure.
- Alcohol: Over consumption of alcohol can raise blood pressure dramatically. Try and limit alcohol consumption to two ounces (equal to two glasses of wine, two beers, or two shots of spirits), two times a week Remember that alcohol is full of empty calories and can contribute to weight gain.
- Stress: Long-term, chronic stress has been shown to increase blood pressure. There are various relaxation techniques that can help to manage stress and lower stress-induced high blood pressure.
- Smoking: Smoking causes a narrowing of the vessels that carry blood to the legs and arms. This can lead to heart disease, stroke, and contributes to high blood pressure. Quit smoking.
Remember always consult your healthcare professional with any questions or concerns you may have regarding high blood pressure.
Family Issues - Hypertension
HBP is a common disorder and because of that, it is recommended that your have your blood pressure checked at least once a year.
There are factors that can increase a person's risk of developing HBP and they include:
- heredity - HBP tends to run in families
- sex - males are more likely to develop HBP than females
- age - HBP tends to occur most often in people over 35
- race - blacks tend to develop HBP more often than whites