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What is Blood Pressure (BP)?

It is the force of blood against the arteries. Your heart creates this force as it pumps blood to all parts of your body. The top number (systolic) measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats. The lower number (diastolic) measures the pressure while your heart rests between beats. Normal BP is below 120/80 mm Hg (millimeters of mercury). If you are an adult and your blood pressure stays between 120-139/80-89 you have prehypertension (high blood pressure ).You are considered hypertensive if your BP is above 140/90. People with diabetes or kidney disease are considered hypertensive if their BP is higher than 130/80.

What Does Hypertension Do To Your Body?

High blood pressure increases the work of your heart and arteries. Your heart pumps blood with more force anI;!if this continues for some time your heart can enlarge and your arteries will harden and become less elastic. High blood pressure increases your risk of stroke and can damage your kidneys and eyes. If you have hypertension that is poorly controlled you are three times more likely to develop coronary heart disease and six times more likely to develop congestive heart failure and seven times more likely to have a stroke.

Can You Tell When Your BP is High?

High BP usually has no symptoms. About 90-95% of the cases of high blood pressure have no known cause. People with severe high BP may complain of headaches, visual disturbances, nausea and vomiting.

What Are the Risk Factors for High Blood Pressure?

A family history of high BP, aging, overweight, eating too much salt, and lack of exercise increases the risk for developing high blood pressure

What Can Be Done About High Blood Pressure?

Your doctor will decide what approach you need to follow to treat your hypertension. Medication is often needed to get your BP under control. Often you will need 2.or 3 drugs to control your hypertension. In addition, keeping your weight in a range that is ideal to your height is important. Increasing activity will help to keep you at your ideal weight.

Medications: There are many medications that can help control high blood pressure. Some medications that may be prescribed for you include:

  • Diuretics: Also called water pills which will decrease sodium in your system that can increase the amount of urine the body produces. This helps to eliminate extra fluids and sodium and reduce your blood pressure.
  • ACE Inhibitors and Angiotension/Renin Blockers(ARB’s): These drugs work by helping to stop the body from reacting to certain hormones that cause negatives effects on the heart and blood flow. Ace Inhibitors are considered vasodilators because they dilate or widen blood vessels and lowers BP.
  • Beta-Blockers: These drugs help keep the heart from beating faster to make up for its weak pumping action. They allow the heart to respond to stimulation with a slower heart rate, and they also help to lower blood pressure.
  • Calcium Channel Blockers: These drugs relax the arteries and thereby reduce BP

Lower the amounts of salt in your diet: Eating salt makes the body retain water. This can raise your blood pressure.

  • Watch for the hidden amounts of sodium in food
  • Read food labels for sodium content and remember that total sodium for the day should be no more than 2,400mg and preferably closer to 1,500mg
  • Take the salt shaker off the table
  • Use other seasonings that do not contain salt or sodium. Season with herbs, garlic or onion powders, or lemon juice
  • Avoid ready-to-eat foods such as canned soup, processed meats, cheeses, frozen dinners as they contain sodium
  • While eating at restaurants, ask that food be cooked without added salt
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