Thursday, 23 February 2012

An Overview Of High Blood Pressure

There are many chronic long term medical problems affecting the western world and they are rightly regarded as a ticking health time bomb. Hypertension, obesity and diabetes are all rapidly increasing in incidence year on year.

Hypertension or high blood pressure is a condition that millions of people have, often without knowing. It causes few if any signs or symptoms and is often found by chance during medical check ups for other things.

Your blood pressure readings are best thought of as how hard your heart is working to drive the blood round your body. If you think of a tap. When it is turned on with a low flow the pressure is also low. Turn it up and the water pressure also rapidly goes up.  In your body the blood leaves the heart and is pumped through your arties to all your vital organs and muscles. If the arteries are stiffer than they should be higher pressure is needed.

It is expressed as 2 numbers such as 120/80. They are known as the systolic and diastolic pressure respectively. A simpler way of thinking about it is 120 (systolic) is the highest pressure as your heart beats. 80 (diastolic) is the pressure in between heart beats.

The figure generally regarded as normal is 120/80. It is measured with a cuff round wither your upper arm, wrist or even finger, although this is not as accurate. If it is above 140/90 it is considered high and needs treating.

High blood pressure readings greater than 140/90 need treating because it is associated with a much higher risk of other illnesses such as angina, heart attacks, strokes and kidney problems.  The causes are varied and include being overweight, unfit, smoking, diabetes and family history. In addition there are a whole host of lifestyle factors that are thought to affect it including stress, anxiety and lack of sleep.

Treatment for hypertension depends on how high your blood pressure readings are. If they are slightly raised it is a good idea to change your lifestyle to lower it. So lose weight id you are obese, stop smoking and start doing some exercise. The exercise can start with a simple 30 minute walk daily and then be built up.

Change your diet considerably. Junk food and ready meals have to be ditched in favour of healthier fresh foods. Fizzy drinks are very high in sugar so must be cut out. Salt intake has to be decreased, which is easy to achieve when eating a healthy diet. Most processed and junk foods are full of salt.

If these lifestyle approaches don’t work it may be time to take prescription drugs as recommended by your doctor.

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