High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
Your risk for high blood pressure increases with age. It is also related to your weight and certain lifestyle habits. High blood pressure can lead to severe complications without any prior warning symptoms, including heart attack or stroke. Treating high blood pressure can reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure. Finding out you have high blood pressure and then working with your doctor to manage it can pay huge health dividends.
What Is Hypertension?
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a common condition that will catch up with most people who live into older age. Blood pressure is the force of blood pressing against the walls of your arteries. When it’s too high, it raises the heart’s workload and can cause serious damage to the arteries. Over time, if high blood pressure is uncontrolled this increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease.
Causes of Hypertension?
Normal blood pressure readings will fall below 120/80, while higher results over time can indicate hypertension. In most cases, the underlying cause of hypertension is unknown. The top number (systolic) shows the pressure when your heart beats. The lower number (diastolic) measures pressure at rest between heartbeats, when the heart refills with blood. Occasionally, kidney or adrenal gland disease can lead to hypertension. Certain chronic conditions also may increase your risk of high blood pressure, including high cholesterol, diabetes, kidney disease and sleep apnea. Family history. High blood pressure tends to run in families.
Symptoms of Hypertension
High blood pressure is sometimes called a silent killer because it may have no outward symptoms for years. In fact, one in five people with the condition don’t know they have it. Internally, it can quietly damage the heart, lungs, blood vessels, brain, and kidneys if left untreated. It’s a major risk factor for strokes and heart attacks in the United States.
High Blood Pressure Screening
Blood pressure is expressed as two numbers. The first (systolic) is the pressure of your blood against your artery walls when the heart beats. The second (diastolic) is the pressure between beats. Normal adult blood pressure is less than 120/80. High blood pressure is at or above 140/90. A reading between those two is considered pre-hypertension. Your doctor can advise you as to how often to have your blood pressure checked. Normal blood pressure is below 120/80; blood pressure between 120/80 and 139/89 is called “pre-hypertension”, and a blood pressure of 140/90 or above is considered high.
A Warning Sign: Pre-hypertension
Almost one-quarter of Americans have prehypertension. Their blood pressure is consistently just above the normal level — falling anywhere between 120 and 139 for systolic pressure or 80 to 89 for the diastolic pressure. People in this range have twice the risk of developing heart disease than those with a lower reading. Your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes to help lower your blood pressure.
The Danger Zone of Hypertension
You have high blood pressure if readings average140/90 or higher — for either number — though you may still have no symptoms. At 180/110 and higher, you may be having a hypertensive crisis. Rest for a few minutes and take your blood pressure again. If it is still very high, call 911. A hypertensive crisis can lead to a stroke, heart attack, kidney damage, or loss of consciousness. Symptoms of a hypertensive crisis can include a severe headache, anxiety, nosebleeds, and feeling short of breath.
Sodium and Hypertension
Sodium, a major component of salt, can raise blood pressure by causing the body to retain fluid, which leads to a greater burden on the heart. The American Heart Association recommends eating less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day. You’ll need to check food labels and menus carefully. Processed foods contribute up to 75% of our sodium intake. Canned soups and lunch meats are prime suspects. Cut back on the use of salt especially salt shakers. (shaking salt on the food after its cooked)
Stress and Hypertension
Stress can make your blood pressure spike, but there’s no evidence that it causes high blood pressure as an ongoing condition. However, stress may affect risk factors for heart disease, so it may have an indirect connection to hypertension. Stress may lead to other unhealthy habits, such as a poor diet, alcohol use, or smoking, which can contribute to high blood pressure and heart disease.
Weight and Hypertension
Being overweight places a strain on your heart and increases your risk of high blood pressure. That is why diets to lower blood pressure are often also designed to control calories. They typically call for cutting fatty foods and added sugars, while increasing fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and fiber. Even losing 10 pounds can make a difference.
Alcohol and Hypertension
Drinking too much alcohol can increase your blood pressure. Guidelines from the American Heart Association state that if you drink alcohol, you should limit the amount to no more than two drinks a day for men, or one a day for women. They define a drink as one 12-ounce beer, four ounces of wine, 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits, or one ounce of 100-proof spirits.
Caffeine and Hypertension
If caffeine can make you jittery, can it also raise your blood pressure? It might have a temporary effect, but studies haven’t shown any link between caffeine and the development of hypertension. You can safely drink one or two cups a day, according to the American Heart Association.
Hypertension and Pregnancy
Gestational hypertension is a kind of high blood pressure that occurs in the second half of pregnancy. Without treatment, it may lead to a serious condition called preeclampsia that endangers both the mother and baby. The condition can limit blood and oxygen flow to the baby and can affect the mother’s kidneys and brain. After the baby is born, the mother’s blood pressure usually returns to its normal level. Make sure to follow up with your Dr. for prenatal care as soon as you discovered you are pregnant
Hypertension and Medicine
Cold and flu medicines that contain decongestants are one of several classes of medicine that can cause your blood pressure to rise. Others include NSAID  pain relievers, steroids, diet pills, birth control pills, and some antidepressants. If you have high blood pressure, talk to you doctor about what medicines and supplements you are taking that may affect blood pressure.
Hypertension and Children
While hypertension is more often a problem for older people, even children can have high blood pressure. “Normal” blood pressure varies based on a child’s age, height, and sex, so your doctor will need to tell you if there is a concern. Children are at greater risk if they are overweight, have a family history of the illness and if they’re African-American. Make sure your children do the required yearly physical.
- The DASH Diet: You may be able to lower your blood pressure by switching to a better diet. The DASH Diet — Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension — involves eating more fruits, vegetables, whole-grain foods, low-fat dairy, fish, poultry, and nuts. You should eat less red meat, saturated fats, and sweets. Reducing sodium in your diet can also have a significant effect.
- Exercise: Regular exercise helps lower your blood pressure. Adults should get about 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week. That could include gardening, walking briskly, bicycling, or other aerobic exercise. Muscle-strengthening activities are recommended at least two days a week and should work all major muscle groups.
- Medications: As prescribed by your Doctors
- Meditation: can put your body into a state of deep rest, which can lower your blood pressure.
- Read more information on High Blood Pressure here
- High blood pressure (hypertension) Risk Factors
NSAIDS  Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, usually abbreviated to NSAIDs, but also referred to as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents/analgesics
- Sources of Info.
- American Heart Association
- New England Journal of Medicine.
- Mayo Clinic
- For informational purposes not promoting drinking of alcohol, coffee or smoking.