Hypertension or high blood pressure is the number one reason for heart attacks. One in three U.S. adults have high blood pressure, and yet because of lack of symptoms they remain unaware of it. Because of the absence of signs, it is also called ‘the silent killer’ and is the leading cause of strokes, heart attacks, and kidney failure. Left untreated, hypertension can also lead to angina, erectile dysfunction, vision loss and memory loss too.
What it is
There is tremendous pressure when blood flows through arteries, thus resulting in microscopic tears sometimes. Although the body immediately gets into a repair mode, sometimes it may not be possible due to blockages and blood clots in the arteries. With the amount of blood to vital organs reduced, tissues die leading to a heart attack.
In over 95% of people specific cause for hypertension remains unknown. However, some genetic and lifestyle habits have been found to influence it. Age is one such factor. With increase in age, (systolic) blood pressure increases too. Hereditary is a factor, which when combined with other environmental factors leads to hypertension. High intake of salt (again when combined with family history and other factors) is another factor that might lead to increased blood pressure. High alcohol consumption, stress and obesity are other factors.
The normal blood pressure reading for a person is 120/80 mm Hg, where the top reading is called systolic and the bottom reading is diastolic. When systolic reads more than 140 mm Hg and the diastolic reads more than 90 mm Hg, it indicates high blood pressure. Extreme cases are known as hypertensive crisis. Call for emergency medical help when the systolic crosses 180 and the diastolic crosses 110.
Prevention and treatment
With care high blood pressure can be prevented and controlled too. Here are some ways to do it. Eat a healthy diet with reduced sale intake. Diet rich in fruits, vegetables, high-fiber food, skinless poultry, fish (especially those with omega 3 fatty acids), beans and low in fats and salt will keep your blood pressure level on check. Start exercising regularly at least for three days a week. Maintaining your weight and managing stress is important too.
Blood pressure increases for a few minutes after you smoke. Saying bye to smoking is a great help that you can render to your body. Soaking in hot tub or sauna may pose a risk to hypertensive patients as it can open up blood vessels. People with high blood pressure should not shift between cold and hot water often as it increases blood pressure. Taking your prescription medicines properly and finally limiting your alcohol will help reduce blood pressure.
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