In the medical community, they call high blood pressure a silent lethal weapon and the “silent killer.”
That’s because the only way to know if it’s high is to have it checked regularly, and this is difficult for most people to do.
The term blood pressure refers to the pressure of the blood against the walls of the arteries, and it is the result of two forces.
- One happens while the heart pumps blood into the arteries and through the circulatory system.
- The other is the force of the arteries as they resist the blood flow.
- The top number (called the systolic blood pressure)represents the measure of pressure when the heart is contracting.
- The bottom number (called the diastolic blood pressure) is when the heart is expanding after the contraction.
Typically, a blood pressure reading of 120/80 is considered normal.
- If you’re an adult with a blood pressure of 120 to 139 as the top number over 80 to 89 as the bottom number, you are classified as having “pre-hypertension.”
If your blood pressure is 140/90 or higher, you are diagnosed as having high blood pressure.
- If you have been diagnosed with Diabetes or Kidney Disease your physician will want your blood pressure to be lower than 130/80.
While the specific cause(s) of high blood pressure isn’t known, the following have been identified as contributing factors.
- Family history
- Excessive alcohol intake
- Inactive lifestyle/lack of exercise
- A high-salt and/or a high-fat diet
- High intake of caffeine
In about 5-10% of cases, kidney disease, tumors of the adrenal glands near the kidneys and narrowing of certain arteries are present.
Hypertension can damage blood vessels in various parts of your body, and the longer it’s left untreated, the more likely organs such as your heart, brain, kidneys or eyes will be damaged.
This can lead to heart attack, stroke, heart failure, kidney disease, and blindness.
You may not notice any of this. Hence the name for hypertension-The Silent Lethal Weapon.
And, although it cannot be cured, it can be managed and controlled.
Risk Factors You Can Manage Include:
- Being Overweight (obesity)
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Lack of physical activity
- Having Diabetes
How The Risk Factors Can Be Managed:
- Lose weight if you’re overweight.
- Eat healthy foods low in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, and salt.
- Eat a diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products.
- Increase your daily physical activity.
- Limit alcohol to no more than one drink a day if you’re a woman, two drinks a day if you’re a man.
- If you smoke, stop.
- Take your medicine as prescribed by your physician.
Unfortunately, there are exceptions to the rules:
- The numbers of Black Americans living with high blood pressure is among the highest in the world. Currently, more than 40% of this population is affected.
- In addition, hypertension develops earlier in life for Black Americans than in Caucasians and is more severe.
Among other races, but to a lesser degree, there are also risk factors:
- Age: In general, the older you get, the greater your chance of developing high blood pressure.
- Sex: Men tend to develop high blood pressure earlier in life than women.
- Heredity: A tendency for high blood pressure runs in families.
Get involved in controlling your risks:
1. Talk to your doctor, nurse or other healthcare professionals.
2. If you have been diagnosed with heart disease or have had a stroke, members of your family also may be at higher risk. It’s very important for them to make changes now to lower their risks. We’ll be discussing these in future articles.
3. Click The Links Below For More Information:
- Call 1-800-AHA-USA (1-800-242-8721) or visit americanheart.org for more information on heart disease.
- For information on strokes, call 1-888-4-STROKE (1-888-478-7653) or visit StrokeAssociation.org.