According to the American Heart Association, hypertension is the medical term for high blood pressure. It is defined an adult as blood pressure that is greater than or equal to 140 mm systolic and 90 mm diastolic. Hypertension directly increases the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke.
When the heart beats, it generates a force exerted against artery walls, known as blood pressure. Blood pressure is measured by testing the force needed to stop blood from flowing through the arteries, away from the heart. When a blood pressure test is performed, a test result will yield two numbers. The first number is known as the systolic number. It measures the pressure when the heart beats. The second number, known as the diastolic number, measures the pressure between heart beats, when the heart is at rest. A normal blood pressure for a healthy adult is 120/80.
Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a serious condition that affects approximately one quarter of all Americans. Hypertension is commonly known as the “silent killer” because of the lack of any noticeable symptoms. If not treated, hypertension can lead to many more serious conditions that can ultimately prove fatal.
Diagnosing and treating hypertension is very important because it can lead to a number of other diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure.
Everyone is susceptible to developing hypertension, but some groups are at greater risk than others. Those most at risk are:
• People with a history of hypertension in their family
- Overweight people
• African Americans
• Elderly people
You are also at a higher risk to develop hypertension if you:
• Drink alcohol frequently
• Are pregnant or on birth control pills
• On a high-salt diet
• Are an inactive person
If you have hypertension, there are ways of controlling your condition. The following lifestyle changes can be added to reduce your risk:
- Exercise Regularly – Aerobic exercise for 15 to 45 minutes, three to four times a week, every week is recommended by doctors. Swimming, walking, jogging, riding a bike, and dancing are all excellent forms of aerobic exercise.
- Eat healthy – Avoid foods with high salt and high fat content. Doctors suggest eating more fruit, vegetables, chicken, fish, pasta, and low-fat dairy products.
- Control Alcohol – Limit alcohol consumption.
- Stop Smoking – If you are serious about controlling hypertension, you must stop smoking.
In some more serious cases, doctors will prescribe medication to help control hypertension. The best prevention is to see a doctor and have a blood pressure check-up at least once a year.
Before beginning a diet or exercise program, consult your physician.
All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.