High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
What it is and how to treat it.
What is High Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure, or hypertension, refers to the force at which blood pushes against blood vessel walls. When that force is consistently high, it means the heart is working harder than normal to pump blood throughout the body. This leads to high blood pressure (also known as hypertension). When blood pressure remains high over a prolonged period of time, the body is more prone to heart disease, heart failure, stroke or kidney failure.
Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). Normal blood pressure is generally classified as having a systolic blood pressure (the pressure generated when your heart beats) of less than 120 (mm Hg) along with a diastolic blood pressure (your heart at rest) of less than 80 (mm Hg). Pre- hypertention is the stage between normal and high blood pressure, and your warning sign that your blood pressure levels are becoming elevated and lifestyle changes need to be made to avoid developing high blood pressure (HBP).
What causes Hypertension?
Approximately one in three adults have HBP, and the risk is greater for older adults, African Americans, women taking birth control, women who are pregnant or people with chronic conditions such as sleep apnea, thyroid or kidney disease. Certain medications also potentially increase blood pressure. People who smoke, drink heavily and eat fatty and salty foods are more likely to develop HBP than active adults who maintain a healthy diet, and stress is also a large factor in blood pressure levels.
What are the treatment options?
Medication – Blood pressure medications work in various ways, some by removing excess salt and fluids from the body and others by widening blood vessels or slowing down the heartbeat. Your doctor may prescribe one or more medications to be taken together. Drug treatment options include ACE inhibitors (examples include LISINIPRIL, CAPTOPRIL, ENALAPRIL, BENAZEPRIL)), Angiotensin II receptor blockers (examples include Diovan (VALSARTAN), Benicar (OLMESARTAN), and Micardis (TELMISARTAN)), beta-blockers (example metoprolol), calcium channel blockers (examples include verapamil, nifedipine, Norvasc (amlodipine)), diuretics, nervous system inhibitors and Vasodilators.
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Dietary and Lifestyle Changes – A diet low in saturated fats and sodium with sufficient potassium intake (4.7 grams daily)can greatly reduce blood pressure. Exercising, reducing stress, limiting alcohol intake and quitting smoking are also recommended.