What Is Hypertension?
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a common condition that will catch up with most people who live into older age. Blood pressure is the force of blood pressing against the walls of the arteries. When it’s too high, it raises the heart’s workload and can cause serious damage to the arteries. Over time, uncontrolled high blood pressure increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease.
What Causes Hypertension?
Normal blood pressure readings will fall below 120/80, while higher results over time can indicate hypertension. In most cases, the underlying cause of hypertension is unknown.
Hypertension and Sodium
Sodium, a major component of salt, can raise blood pressure by causing the body to retain fluid, which leads to a greater burden on the heart. The American Heart Association recommends eating less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day. Processed foods makes up the majority of our sodium intake.
Hypertension and Stress
Stress can make one’s blood pressure spike, but there’s no evidence that it causes high blood pressure as an ongoing condition. However, stress may affect risk factors for heart disease, so it may have an indirect connection to hypertension. Stress may lead to other unhealthy habits, such as a poor diet, alcohol use, or smoking, which can contribute to high blood pressure and heart disease.
Hypertension and Weight
overweight places a strain on the heart and increases your risk of high blood pressure. That is why diets to lower blood pressure are often also designed to control calories. Even losing 10 pounds can make a difference.
Treatment: The DASH Diet
You may be able to lower your blood pressure by switching to a better diet. The DASH Diet — Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension –involves eating more fruits, vegetables, whole-grain foods, low-fat dairy, fish, poultry, and nuts. You should eat less red meat, saturated fats, and sweets. Reducing sodium in the diet can also have a significant effect.
Treatment: Complementary Therapies
Meditation can put the body into a state of deep rest, which can lower blood pressure. Yoga, tai chi, and deep breathing also help. These relaxation techniques should be combined with other lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise.
Living With High Blood Pressure Hypertension
is often a life-long condition. It’s important to take your medications and continue to monitor your blood pressure. If you keep it under control, you can reduce the risk of stroke, heart disease, and kidney failure.
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