Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a serious health problem. Hypertension arises when something has caused the blood to flow faster than it should. This creates more pressure on the heart and blood vessels which can lead to many serious health problems from heart attacks to strokes. In most people, the cause is unknown and the hypertension is classified as primary, or essential. In about 5 percent of cases, it may result from kidney disease, a hormonal imbalance, or some other identifiable factor. This is known as secondary hypertension. Predisposing risk factors have been identified; these include obesity and a family history of hypertension or stroke at an early age. A high salt diet contributes to the condition in genetically susceptible people. African-Americans have a higher incidence of hypertension than whites. Women are less prone than men to high blood pressure, but pregnancy and use of oral contraceptives increase their risk. The disease affects an estimated 50 million Americans.
Causes of High Blood Pressure
A mixture of eating the wrong things and not taking good care of your body commonly causes high blood pressure. Sometimes high blood pressure can also be inherited, so if you have any family members with high blood pressure, you should take special care to take care of yourself.
Eating a lot of meat is bad for your blood pressure. The fats and cholesterol in meat build up in the body over time creating a thin crust on the inside of your arteries and blood vessels. This causes the blood to flow too fast and makes dangerous blockages. Cutting out meat from your diet or switching to lean meat only will help reduce your blood pressure and may give your body a chance to clean away some of the fat from your arteries.
Not exercising is another cause of high blood pressure as it allows fats to settle more quickly in the body. Taking up basic exercises just twice a week will go a long way to getting rid of high blood pressure. Something as simple as riding a bike, dancing, walking up stairs, or running can be enough. Just make sure your heart rate is elevated for at least thirty minutes each time in order to have the exercise work.
Thinning out the blood can also cause high blood pressure. The body is an enclosed circuit and can only hold so much. If there is too much blood, it puts pressure on the heart and blood vessels while making the blood flow faster. If you smoke, drink alcohol, or take medication like aspirin that can thin the blood, you should stop unless your doctor tells you otherwise. Doing so will allow the blood to return to normal thickness, which will in turn help lower the blood pressure. Also, be sure to eat less than four grams of salt a day as salt can also thin the blood.
Diagnostic Studies And Procedures
Because there usually are no symptoms, hypertension is most often diagnosed during a routine medical examination or a special screening program. Blood pressure is normally measured with a sphygmomanometer . This device consists of an inflatable cuff, an air pump, and a column of mercury. The cuff is wrapped around the upper arm and inflated. The objective is to measure the amount of pressure needed to stop the flow of blood through an artery. As the air pressure in the cuff increases, it drives up the column of mercury. By listening through a stethoscope placed over the artery at a point below the cuff, a doctor or nurse can quickly determine when the flow of blood has stopped. The cuff is then decompressed, and the height of the mercury at the first thumping sound is noted. This is the systolic pressure, which is the peak force exerted against the artery wall when the heart contracts to push blood out. More pressure is released from the cuff, and a different sound is heard. This is the diastolic pressure, which occurs when the heart muscle relaxes to allow blood from the veins to flow in. Thus, in a blood pressure reading of 120/80, the 120 represents systolic pressure and 80 is diastolic pressure. During the course of a day, blood pressure varies considerably. It is generally lowest during sleep and highest in the early morning. Anger or stress sends blood pressure up; caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol can do so also. A resting blood pressure of 120/80 is considered normal for adults; a consistent reading of 140/90 or higher is classified as hypertension. To make a diagnosis, however, blood pressure should be measured a number of times over several weeks, unless the initial reading is dangerously high 160/110, for example. Wearing a 24 hour blood pressure monitor may be recommended in some cases. This device continually measures and records blood pressure. If a complication related to hypertension, such as an enlarged heart, is suspected, additional tests, including a chest X-ray and electrocardiogram, may be done.
Poorly controlled high blood pressure can have serious consequences; it is vital to see a doctor regularly and take any prescribed medications. Alternative therapies cannot cure the condition, but some can reduce or even eliminate the need for drugs. When using an alternative therapy, be sure to let your physician know, so medical treatment can be adjusted appropriately.
Therapists may stimulate meridians for the liver and bladder, as well as certain ear points. Blood pressure should be monitored during every session, and these techniques should not be used for any patient whose blood pressure is higher than 160/100.
Dandelion tea or capsules may be recommended as a natural diuretic. Garlic, either natural or in capsule form, is also said to lower high blood pressure. Because licorice raises blood pressure, capsules, teas, candy, and other products that contain the natural form should be avoided. The artificial flavoring that is used in most licorice candy in the United States is a safe substitute.
In addition to dietary adjustments, other lifestyle changes that should be incorporated into a prevention or treatment program include:
- If you smoke, stop now. Also, avoid exposure to second-hand smoke.
- Lose excess weight. Staying within 15 percent of your ideal weight is the single most effective thing you can do to control blood pressure.
- Avoid alcoholic beverages.
These are just a few of the things you can do to stop high blood pressure. For more ideas to help you get rid of your high blood pressure, talk to your doctor.
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