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February is American Heart Month: Understanding high blood pressure

If think you may have high blood pressure, consult your doctor. He or she can work with you to develop a plan of treatment.
Anonymous
Feb 13, 2013

High blood pressure, or hypertension, affects more than 68 million Americans. Called the “silent killer,” high blood pressure typically has no symptoms and many people do not even know they have it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It does have a few specific causes, and there are ways to treat high blood pressure.

Normal blood pressure

Blood flows through arteries. The rate of force or pressure as it hits the interior artery walls is measured to define blood pressure. This pressure rate is measured in two ways with two numbers. The systolic pressure reading is the top number, and the bottom number reports the diastolic pressure reading. Less than 120/80, where 120 equals the systolic reading and 80 equals the diastolic reading, is considered a normal blood pressure reading.

Potential causes of high blood pressure

Some medical conditions can cause hypertension. These include adrenal gland tumors, congenital blood vessel defects, diabetes, kidney disease, pre-hypertension and sleep apnea. In addition, illegal drugs can contribute to high blood pressure. Sometimes other medications can lead to a rise in blood pressure. These may include, but are not limited to, birth control pills, over-the-counter medications such as allergy pills, cold medicines, pain relievers and certain prescription drugs.

Heredity and lifestyle play a part

According to the American Heart Association, genetics can be a risk factor for high blood pressure. If a parent, grandparent or sibling has been diagnosed with high blood pressure, your risk for hypertension increases. The way you live can cause hypertension as well. Obesity, lack of activity and a diet with a high sodium intake can cause high blood pressure. Alcohol, smoking and too much stress in your daily life can cause hypertension as well.

Remedies for high blood pressure

The American Heart Association recommends several ways to treat high blood pressure. These include:

Get active and maintain a healthy weight.

Quit smoking and avoid breathing second-hand smoke.

Eliminate or reduce alcohol consumption.

Manage stress and get proper rest every day.

If taking medication for hypertension, follow all instructions. If think you may have high blood pressure, consult your doctor. He or she can work with you to develop a plan of treatment and care if hypertension is found.

Adopt a heart-healthy diet, including reducing sodium intake.