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Hypertension or High Blood Pressure means high pressure (tension) in the arteries. Arteries are vessels that carry blood from the pumping heart to all the tissues and organs of the body. Its a chronic medical condition in which blood pressure is elevated.

Blood pressure should be under 140/90 mm Hg . People with any of the below risk factors should have their blood pressure checked every time they visit their doctor. For those who fall into several risk categories, experts recommended purchasing a blood pressure cuff and a stethoscope and taking your own pressure every week.

High Blood Pressure Risk Factors:

  • Cigarette smoking (active smoking) or being exposed to secondhand smoke on a daily basis (passive smoking).
  • Diabetes (a fasting glucose higher than 125 mg/dL).
  • Kidney disease
  • Family history of hypertension.
  • Being obese or overweight.
  • Leading a physically inactive, sedentary lifestyle.
  • Men over the age of 45.
  • Women over the age of 55.
  • Taking oral contraceptives.
  • Elevated cholesterol levels.
  • Frequently consuming alcoholic beverages.
  • Being African American.

  • Hypertension is often precursor to heart disease. High blood pressure that goes undetected or isn't properly controlled can lead to heart attack, heart failure, kidney failure, stroke or premature death. Since, hypertension has few early symptoms, many people aren't aware they have it. The average adult has about five liters of blood flowing through the body via an intricate network of blood vessels called arteries, veins and capillaries. Blood is essential to life for it delivers oxygen from our lungs to our body tissues, and carries harmful waste to the kidneys to be removed. Blood also transports hormones from our glands to various parts of our bodies, as well as vitamins and nutrients from our digestive tracts.

    When our blood vessels become clogged due to a plaque buildup of cholesterol and fat, our hearts must work twice as hard to pump enough blood to our vital organs. This is what causes our blood pressure to surge.

    As the pressure increases inside of our arteries, veins and capillaries, our hearts become even more overworked. Over time, our hearts grow larger in an effort to compensate for the extra workload and eventually they become weaker.

    When you add obesity, smoking, or diabetes to the mix, the risk of heart attack, stroke or kidney disease for those with high blood pressure increases dramatically. This is why it is important to know what your blood pressure is.

    Experts recommend that you maintain a blood pressure lower than 140/90 mm Hg at rest. The higher number represents the maximum pressure exerted when the heart contracts (systole). It reflects the stiffness of the large arteries near the heart, and the volume of blood pumped into them. The lower number represents the pressure exerted when the heart begins to relax between beats (diastole), just before the next contraction. It measures the amount of constriction of the body's smaller arteries or arterioles.

  • A great way to lower your blood pressure and combat the corrosive effects of plaque buildup is to exercise. Studies have shown that sedentary lifestyles tend to elevate blood pressure, while regular exercise can reduce it.
  • Avoid foods high in fat and cholesterol. Sodium plays an essential role in regulating fluids in the body. Studies of diverse populations have shown that a high sodium intake is associated with higher blood pressures. A good rule of thumb is that if you can taste the salt in your food, then there is too much of it. Canned foods, snack foods, fast foods and other prepared foods are loaded with sodium. It is much better to prepare your own low-sodium meals.
  • Say No to Smoking, Excessive Drinking. Nicotine, one of thousands of chemicals found in cigarettes, causes the blood vessels to constrict. This narrowing of the vessels increases blood pressure. While drinking in moderation doesn't seem to have much of an impact on your heart, having more than three drinks a day may contribute to high blood pressure.
  • Physical inactivity among our youth is a real problem. We should eat eight servings of fruits and vegetables a day, and get more exercise. We should get ourselves and children away from the television sets and the computers, and start them exercising early in their lives.