What Is Hypertension?

Hypertension and high blood pressure, damages the heart, kidneys and the nervous system. You are at a much greater risk of heart attack, stroke and kidney disease when you have hypertension.

Hypertension and high blood pressure, damages the heart, kidneys and the nervous system. You are at a much greater risk of heart attack, stroke and kidney disease when you have hypertension. This article will tell what the warning signs are and how to reduce blood pressure.

Our blood pressure is the amount of pressure exerted by the blood on the walls of the arteries as it is pumped from the heart throughout the circulatory system. If your blood pressure is chronically too high this is called hypertension. Continual high blood pressure can damage the arteries over the years. Since the heart has to work harder to pump the blood through the arteries the heart can also be damaged. Usually the symptoms of the damage done will not be noticeable until the damage is so great that it is irreversible. Hypertension is the leading cause of heart attack and stroke. It is estimated that 40 million Americans have high blood pressure.

Since the damage being done by hypertension is a silent killer it is important to have your blood pressure taken regularly. When you get your blood pressure taken two numbers will be given by your doctor. The first number given is the systolic pressure, this number is also the highest number. The systolic pressure is the amount of pressure that is exerted against the artery walls during the heart beat. The second number, which is the lowest number, is the diastolic pressure. This number is the measurement of the pressure being exerted on the wall of the arteries between heart beats.

The ideal blood pressure is considered around 120/90 or anything lower. The first number, 120, is the systolic pressure. The second number, 80, is the diastolic pressure. Experts today say that any blood pressure over 140/90 is too high and will warrant a diagnosis of high blood pressure. When blood pressure reaches 180/115 it is severely elevated and the patient will receive a diagnosis of hypertension.

The exact cause of high blood pressure in 90 percent of the cases is still unknown.

Hypertension is not caused by tension or stress, even though some would say it is. If you already have hypertension the blood pressure will go up during times of stress - but it is not the cause of it. Doctors are pinpointing some of the causes of hypertension. Hereditary is one of the biggest factors; it does run in the family. Obesity is also a major cause of developing hypertension. High sodium intake has been controversial in being the blame in high blood pressure. Studies now show that it can cause high blood pressure if your body is genetically sensitive to sodium and at risk of high blood pressure to begin with. Only about 10 percent of people with high blood pressure know what specifically caused their disease. For some it is a kidney abnormality, adrenal gland disorder or a congenital problem with the heart. Arteriosclerosis is one of the precursors of


People who have hypertension usually do not know they have it. Some of the later symptoms that signal the disease is in it's later stages are: headaches, vision changes, rapid pulse, sweating, dizziness, and difficulty breathing.

Life style changes are the key to lowr your blood pressure. Some of the changes you can make are: Changing the way you eat and exercise will help lower your blood pressure.

Stop smoking. Losing weight will reduce your blood pressure. Reduce your sodium intake if you are genetically predisposed to hypertension. Avoid all foods that have the word sodium, soda or NA in the ingredients. These words indicate there is salt in the food. Also be aware of additives that contain monosodium glutamate and seasoning salts. Begin exercising 4 days a week for at least 20 minutes. Start eating a high fiber diet. Oat bran, fruits and vegetables, brown rice and wheat are all good high fiber foods.

Limit your fat intake.

You can measure your own blood pressure at home. This is good for those people who want to continually monitor it. Or, for people who have "white coat high blood pressure". Some people get high blood pressure when they are around their doctor!

You will need to own a sphygmomanometer or a blood pressure cuff. Push up your sleeve, wrap the cuff around your arm above the elbow. When the gauge reads zero, find the radial pulse ( the pulse at the wrist). Begin inflating the cuff to 30mm HG and the radial pulse will stop. Open the valve and release 2-3 mmHg per second. When you can feel the radial pulse again - the number on the valve is the systolic pressure. To get the diastolic pressure you must have a stethoscope. Put the stethoscope on the inner elbow.

Pump the cuff again to about 30 points above where you stopped feeling the radial pulse.

Loosen the valve and listen carefully for the first sound of a beat at the inner elbow using a stethoscope. Continue releasing the valve slowly: when you hear no more blood flowing through, this is the diastolic pressure number.

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