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Hypertension: The silent killer

Why is hypertension called the silent killer? Read on to learn about its symptoms and causes and ways to maintain a healthy blood pressure and reduce stress.

Hypertension: The silent killer

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a common condition that affects one out of every three adults.

Hypertension is also called the “Silent Killer” because it often has no symptoms. It is a common condition in which the force of the blood against the artery walls is too high.

Exercise or emotional stress can increase the blood pressure. The increased blood pressure allows more blood to be pumped to the body to help the body cope with increased activity or stress. The body can tolerate a temporary rise in blood pressure.

Your health care provider can diagnose high blood pressure based on two or more in-office readings. A blood pressure reading of 120/80 is ideal. Anything above those numbers is considered to be high blood pressure.

1. Elevated blood pressure is when your systolic readings are between 120 and 129 and your diastolic reading is less than 80.

2. Stage 1 hypertension is more serious than elevated blood pressure. It happens when your systolic readings are between 130 and 139, or your diastolic readings are between 80 and 89.

3. Stage 2 hypertension is more serious than stage 1, and means that your systolic readings are at least 140, or your diastolic readings are at least 90.

4. Hypertensive crisis is when your systolic readings are over 180 and/or your diastolic readings are over 120. This is very serious. If you have it, you must see your health care provider right away.

High blood pressure increases your risk of heart attack, stroke, and heart failure.

Causes of hypertension

The exact causes of hypertension are not known. But certain risk factors are associated with high blood pressure. Risk factors for high blood pressure include: Being overweight; eating a diet that is high in salt, and with saturated and trans fat; lack of physical activity; smoking tobacco products and drinking alcohol; and stress.

Certain health conditions increase the risk of hypertension. These include: high cholesterol, heart disease, and kidney disease. Though some people are at a higher risk of developing hypertension, anyone at any age can develop high blood pressure.

There is a higher chance of developing complications of high blood pressure if the patient has other medical conditions, such as: diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity, and/or previous strokes or heart attacks.

Controlling hypertension

High blood pressure can be controlled with lifestyle changes and medical treatment. Controlling hypertension involves a lifelong commitment to healthy eating and lifestyle habits. Medications may also be needed to bring high blood pressure back to normal.

Regular follow-up care with a health care provider is also essential to make sure that hypertension is controlled. A health care provider can also check for signs of complications.

Losing weight, exercising, and eating a healthier diet are usually all that patients need to do to bring their blood pressure levels back to normal. Eating a diet that is low in salt, and low in saturated and trans fat can help control high blood pressure.

Eating less saturated and trans fat not only helps people lose weight and keep blood pressure levels normal, but it also helps prevent heart attacks and strokes not related to hypertension.

Aerobic exercise can also help people reduce blood pressure as well as lose weight. It helps improve heart performance and decreases the chance of having a heart attack. Walking, biking, and swimming are all examples of aerobic exercise. Check with your health care provider before you begin an exercise program.

Quitting smoking if you smoke and avoiding alcohol can help control your blood pressure. Finding ways to control stress can also help. Stress can be managed through exercise and relaxation techniques such as meditation.


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