Hypertension is the medical term for high blood pressure. The pressure of the blood against the walls of your blood vessels determines whether you have low, normal or high blood pressure.
Each time your heart beats, it pushes blood into the large blood vessels. These vessels carry oxygen and blood to all tissues and muscles in the body. When vessels or arteries become stiff or get blocked, the heart has to work harder to pump blood and your blood pressure rises. When this happens you are at a higher risk of stroke, heart attack, heart failure and kidney failure.
No one is exactly sure what causes high blood pressure. There are things that are known to be major contributors. Background can also play a role in high blood pressure. It is known that if you have a relative who have a history of hypertension, you are at risk. It is also more common in African Americans than other races. Pressure goes up with age and after 35 more people are at risk. Other major factors are being overweight, eating too much salt, inactivity, and too much alcohol.
One very important thing to know is that you can have hypertension and not know it. It is sometimes known as the silent killer. So, be sure to have it checked regularly.
It is not always necessary to take medication if you have hypertension. About 25% of people can help themselves by changing their lifestyles. There are five major things you can do.
1. Weight: This is probably the most important. Losing weight normally helps bring down blood pressure. How much you should lose depends on where your weight needs to be and where you are today.
2. Exercise: Exercise will help. Thirty minutes of walking three or four times a week will strengthen your heart and help in weight loss. Check with your care giver before starting any exercise program.
3. Salt (Sodium): You should eat less salt. Limit foods high in sodium and do not add salt to food at the table or when you cook. Learn to read food labels to see how much sodium is in a product. Salt can cause water to build up in your body which can cause blood pressure to rise.
4. Alcohol: If you are sensitive to alcohol or have a family history of problems with alcohol, quit drinking it. If you drink more than one or two drinks per day, you are at risk for hypertension.
5. Vitamins and Supplements: There are many items that can help support your blood pressure. Grape seed extract, hawthorn leaf extract, L-Arginine and others may also help to control hypertension.
Do not assume that everything is alright because you don't feel any aches or pains. Hypertension can be a major problem and you will not necessarily know it. Be sure to check your blood pressure frequently and be sure to work on the things that may cause you to have high blood pressure.
Remember, it is known as the silent killer.
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