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How To Reduce The Risk Of High Blood Pressure

Health articles >How To Reduce The Risk Of High Blood Pressure


How To Reduce The Risk Of High Blood Pressure

By conservative estimates, there are over 600 million adults worldwide believed to be suffering from persistent high blood pressure or hypertension to use the technical term. In the last few years doctors have defined a new level of risk, prehypertension (a borderline pressure range which is a warning of trouble to come.) Over the course of our lives, maybe 90% of us will develop a blood pressure problem, with half of us dying from either a stroke or heart disease - hypertension's frequent outcome.



  • The Stealth Killer" is a title often given to hypertension as it does most of its damage without alerting the individual. Yet put on a pressure cuff for a few painless seconds and you can identify hypertension. Adopt a few
    changes to your lifestyle and the condition can be simply treated.

    So why has the problem grown to this extent? We are all continually bombarded with commercials, and magazine articles which reinforce the importance of living a healthy life. Yet most of us choose to ignore the message and indulge in all the "bad" things such as smoking, drinking alcohol, and high fat snacks.

    Are You At Risk?
    First lets take a look at your blood pressure reading and what it means. A blood pressure reading is represented by two numbers, 120/80 or 160/100 for example. The first number refers to the pressure against the blood vessel walls during a heartbeat, the systolic pressure. The second number is the pressure taken between heartbeats, the diastolic pressure. Here are the American Heart Association's recommended levels of blood pressure (units mm Hg):-
    Normal: 120 or less / 80 or less
    Prehypertension: 120-139 ( systolic) or 80-89 (diastolic)
    Stage 1 Hypertension: 140-159 or 90-99
    Stage 2 Hypertension: 160 and above or 100 and above

    Factors We Cannot Change
    Although it is unclear why African Americans and dark complexion natives (Bahamians and Native Americans for example) have a much higher risk. Some believe it's due to either genetics or the environment in some way.

    High blood pressure has no mercy on the sexes. Men are more likely than women to have hypertension before the age of 55. Women are generally more aware of their health and take preventative measures to ward off hypertension, but they are still susceptible to the disease.

    The risk of having high blood pressure increases as you age. It's common for adults between 50 and 65 to have hypertension. As the body changes, it affects your heart, blood vessels, and hormones. These changes, combined with other risk factors, increase your chances of developing hypertension

    Family history can also indicate a risk. Twenty-five percent of adults that have a family history of heart disease or high blood pressure have a 60 percent risk of developing hypertension. Genetics, environment, and your access to receiving good health care are all determining factors. A family history doesn't mean that you are destined to have high blood pressure. However, it does mean that you should take preventative measures to ensure that your vulnerability is low.

    Changeable Risk Factors
    Being aware of your risk is the first positive step you can take in "lowering" your risk of hypertension Being overweight or obese, a lack of exercise, eating badly, smoking and drinking too much, all play a role. Changing your lifestyle has a definite impact.

    Excess weight contributes to hypertension in all sorts of ways. Diets which are high in fat are often high in salt, which boosts blood pressure. Carrying that extra weight also causes the heart to work more, forcing the blood even harder through the vessels. Also a blood gas that helps the vessels relax is destroyed by fat situated around the gut.

    Healthy eating is the first step to reducing your risk. A low-fat, low-salt, high nutrient diet is recommended. Reduce your intake of processed foods, salty snacks and cured meats. Eat more fish and poultry. Fill up on fruits and vegetables. Better eating habits can lower the needle on the bathroom scales and on the pressure monitor.

    Sodium can be a deadly enemy of the body. The most popular dietary source of sodium is ingested through the use of salt. Increasing your salt intake requires the body to hold more water. The body first stores this water in the bloodstream and then it deposits it in the tissues. Fluid retention causes stress on the heart and escalates the chances of developing high blood pressure. Potassium helps promote a healthy balance of the amount of sodium in cell fluids. Fruit - such as bananas - and vegetables are an excellent source of potassium.

    Various forms of physical activity - a short 20-minute walk or housecleaning task - can have a serious impact on your life. Any type of exercise aids in the heart's effort to pump blood through your body. Lack of exercise places stress on the heart, resulting in escalated blood pressure. Make a commitment to exercise for at least 30
    minutes three or four times per week.

    Can there be anything worse for hypertension than smoking tobacco? Smoking steps up the heart rate while hardening and constricting the blood vessels. This creates even higher pressure, which causes further damage to the heart and blood vessels.

    Alcohol is another "no-no". An occasional beer or glass of wine will not send you over the edge, but indulging in them can cause serious problems. Consuming three or more alcoholic beverages a day nearly doubles your risk of high blood pressure.

    Get Smart
    Those who are most at risk for high blood pressure should consider a change of lifestyle in order to decrease the chances of developing the disease. The commitment to a healthier life style is something that can be made by everyone. Don't gamble, make an intelligent decision to lower your risk of hypertension.

    Author Edward Vorwerden suffered a stroke at the age of 37.

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