Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure is a condition in which the force of the blood pushing against the walls of the arteries is too high. This is a dangerous condition that can lead to complications such as organ damage, stroke, heart attack, heart failure, or kidney disease.
Blood pressure is calculated by using two measurements and is written as 120/80. In this case the 120 represents the pressure of the blood in the arteries at its highest point and the 80 represents the pressure at its lowest. A normal blood pressure level is below 120/80. A blood pressure reading of 140/90 or higher is considered hypertension. A reading between 120/80 and 140/90 is considered pre-hypertension and someone at this level is considered in danger of developing hypertension.
• Approximately 1 in 3 adults in the United States has high blood pressure.
• Almost another 1 in 3 has pre-hypertension.
• Hypertension causes about 1 out of 4 cases of kidney disease in the United States.
• Only about 1 in 2 U.S. adults with hypertension has it under control
• About 1 in 5 U.S. adults with high blood pressure don’t even know that they have it.
Unfortunately as can be seen by the statistics above hypertension is way too common. Around 73 million people have high blood pressure in this country and the older you are the more likely you are to have it. It is estimated that a person with normal blood pressure at age 55 still has a 90% chance of developing hypertension as they get older. According to a large population-based research study funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, African-Americans are at greatest risk of developing hypertension followed by Caucasians and then Hispanics. The bad news for Hispanics is that they are more likely to not know that they have hypertension and therefore are at greater risk.
What are the symptoms of high blood pressure?
One of the reasons hypertension is so dangerous is because there are seldom any symptoms. A person can live years with hypertension with no signs until it is too late to prevent serious and perhaps life threatening damage.
It is recommended that you have your blood pressure checked at least every two years starting at age 18 and more often if you are in a higher risk group. Children usually have their blood pressure checked during yearly health exams and this is important also because about 2 million children and teens in the US have hypertension.
What are some of the common risk factors?
• Being overweight
• Lack of physical activity
• Eating too much salt
• Family history
• Drinking too much alcohol
A few ways to help control your blood pressure.
• Eat a heart-healthy diet, including potassium and fiber, and drink plenty of water.
• Exercise regularly … at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise a day (walk, run, bike, etc.)
• If you smoke, quit … find a program that will help you stop.
• Limit how much alcohol you drink … one drink a day for women, two a day for men.
• Limit the amount of sodium (salt) you eat … aim for less than 1,500 mg per day.
• Reduce stress … try to avoid things that cause you stress. Yoga anyone?
• Maintain a healthy body weight … find a weight-loss program to help you, if necessary.
• And of course follow your physician’s advice.
Hypertension is a serious condition and if you have it you should know it. Have your blood pressure checked regularly. If you do have it keep it controlled either through lifestyle adjustments, medication, or both.
There is constantly being research done to further help in understanding and to improve treatment for high blood pressure. For those who live in or near Denver and are interested in knowing details on how to participate in a research study or to know what studies are currently enrolling volunteers at Horizons Clinical Research Center, LLC visit us at http://horizonscrc.com/LDBlog.