High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a blood pressure reading of 140/90 mmHg or higher. Nearly one out of every three American adults has high blood pressure. Once high blood pressure develops, it all too often lasts a lifetime.
High blood pressure is often referred to as the silent killer because it usually has no symptoms. It is, therefore, very important to have your blood pressure checked regularly. When it is not treated as soon as it's discovered, it can cause the heart to enlarge, which in turn may lead to heart failure. The heart works harder, your arteries take a beating, and your chances of a stroke, heart attack, and/or kidney problems increase considerably.
Your blood pressure is at its highest when the heart beats, pumping the blood. When the heart is at rest, between beats, your blood pressure falls. When the level stays high consistently for more than three checkups, you are likely to have hypertension.
Many factors are involved in elevating your blood pressure. It is, therefore, highly recommended not to use caffeine, alcohol, or tobacco products at least thirty minutes before measuring your blood pressure. As well, go to the bathroom and rest for three to five minutes before the procedure.
Most doctors will check your blood pressure several times on different days to ensure that, in fact you do have hypertension. Once you know you have the condition, you will need to check the pressure regularly and keep in touch with your family doctor. Talk to your doctor about what is considered high blood pressure for you.
What is high for the majority of people may or may not be so for you. As there are many causes that may show high readings, ranging from nervousness, tension, obesity, heavy alcohol use, family history of high blood pressure, high salt intake, and aging.
Some people will actually show high readings every time they're in a doctor's office whereas, if done at home, or they are in a relaxed frame of mind, the results will be normal. Even routine activities, such as attending a meeting, commuting to work, and exposure to cold can bump up your blood pressure into the high zone
A sedentary lifestyle, stress, low potassium intake, low calcium intake, and resistance to insulin are factors that may cause your blood pressure to rise. Constant headaches, visual disturbances, nausea, and vomiting can be an indication of hypertension and should be checked carefully.
Usually you will not feel any warning signs or symptoms, though. That's why getting your blood pressure checked regularly is of utmost importance to your health. In most cases, a doctor may not be able to pinpoint the exact cause of your high blood pressure.
Lifestyle issues that are in your control to lower your risk of developing hypertension include obesity, inactivity, lack of regular exercise, alcohol consumption of three drinks a day or more, a diet of salty or processed foods, and a lack of calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
Risk factors you can't control include a family history of high blood pressure, your race (being African-American increases your risk), and aging.
A few simple adjustments in your habits can help keep your blood pressure in the normal zone, or even bring a slightly high reading back to normal. Eating less salt, losing a few pounds, drinking less, and reducing your intake of processed foods can make a difference in your overall health. Find out all you can take control over. Here's to your health!
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Ann Stewart, author, inspirational writer and wellness coach, shares tips on how to fight off disease and feel your best in her weekly newsletter, Youth Makeover: youthmakeover.com