• Hypertension and Your Heart

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    Did you know you may be one of the 30 percent of Americans who have hypertension? Also known as high blood pressure, hypertension is a common problem that can affect your health in many ways. It affects people of all ages, even children.

    Almost 20 percent of people who have hypertension don’t know they have it. And not knowing—or having uncontrolled hypertension—means you could have a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease,  including heart attack, heart failure, and stroke, as well as kidney disease and eye disease.

    Hypertension is also a disease in its own right, responsible for more than 60,000 deaths every year. Because it is a serious condition that has few symptoms or warning signals, it is sometimes called the “silent killer.”

    The good news is there are several steps you can take to prevent hypertension, or treat it. In addition to specific lifestyle changes and medications to lower your blood pressure,innovative new therapies such as renal denervation may also be appropriate for specific people with hypertension.

    What Is High Blood Pressure?

    Blood pressure is the force of blood pressing against the inside of the arteries when the heart beats and when the heart is at rest.

    Blood pressure readings are recorded with two numbers, one over the other, as a ratio. For example, a normal blood pressure reading should be less than 120 over 80 millimeters of mercury. Systolic pressure is the top number, in this example 120, which measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats. Diastolic pressure is the bottom number, in this example 80, which measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart is at rest. If your blood pressure is in the borderline range or high blood pressure range, it is higher than it should be and you should talk to your doctor more about diagnosing hypertension and treating hypertension to prevent serious health problems.

    How Does High Blood Pressure Cause Health Problems?

    If you have hypertension, your blood moves through the arteries with too much force against the inside of the artery walls. The result can be harmful effects throughout the body such as the following:

    • Damage and weakening of the walls of the heart’s arteries, and damage to the heart itself, which must work harder to pump blood through the vessels. This might lead to heart attack, or heart failure.
    • Damage to the arteries leading to the brain and eyes, which can be weakened and more likely to burst over time with uncontrolled high blood pressure. This might lead to stroke or eye disease of the retina.
    • Damage to the arteries of the kidneys, which may cause them to fail to remove enough waste and extra fluid from the blood. This extra blood volume would further increase blood pressure and cause a dangerous cycle of uncontrolled high blood pressure. This failure of the kidneys may require dialysis.      

    What Can You Do About High Blood Pressure?

    Once hypertension develops, it typically does not go away. However, there are several treatment options for hypertension, and it can usually be managed. Start today by following a healthy lifestyle and taking any blood pressure medications your doctor prescribes.
  • More about Hypertension

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    Blood Pressure Log

    Record your blood pressure each time you take it outside the doctor’s office. Bring it to your next doctor’s appointment and help your doctor see your blood pressure patterns.

    Blood Pressure Test

    High blood pressure (also called hypertension) is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, and other cardiovascular conditions. When a medical professional measures your blood pressure, that person is measuring the force with which blood moves through your artery walls. Too much force can damage the artery walls, leading to cardiovascular disease.

    Causes of Hypertension

    In some cases, an underlying cause of hypertension can be identified and corrected. But in most cases, the cause of hypertension is unknown and blood pressure increases slowly over time. Several risk factors appear to raise your risk of developing hypertension. But many risk factors can be controlled by following a healthy lifestyle.

    Diagnosing Hypertension

    Your doctor can diagnose hypertension by checking your blood pressure during at least three office visits. There are two numbers that make up your blood pressure reading. Find out what they mean here.

    Lifestyle Changes for People with Hypertension

    Modifying your lifestyle can help lower your risk for hypertension. Or if you already have hypertension, these lifestyle changes can help you manage your hypertension by keeping your blood pressure in a normal range (less than 120/80mmHg). Get started

    Lightening Up Your Favorite Recipes

    Lightening up your recipes to make them more heart-healthy is the best way to enjoy your favorite foods while still living a healthy lifestyle. Try these 10 simple ways to make your recipes healthier.

    Medications for Treating Hypertension

    Fortunately, there are many medications available to help control blood pressure. Different types of medications work on different parts of the body to lower blood pressure.

    Physical Activity

    Making regular physical activity part of your lifestyle is one of the most effective ways you can improve your own heart health.

    Questions to Ask Your Doctor about Hypertension

    The following questions can help you talk to your doctor about your individual risk of having hypertension. Print out or write down these questions and take them with you to your appointment. Taking notes can help you remember your physician’s response when you get home.

    Reading Food Labels

    The Nutrition Facts panel on food packages tells you everything you need to know about the healthfulness of a product. You just have to know what to look for and how to interpret the information. Learn more about what to ignore and what to consider carefully.

    Renal Denervation and Resistant Hypertension

    Sometimes hypertension is difficult to control even when several medications are prescribed. If three or more medications are needed, including one diuretic (a medication that causes the body to eliminate excess fluids and sodium through urination), and your blood pressure is still not under control, it is called resistant hypertension.

    Resources on Hypertension

    Resources on Hypertension

    Salt & Your Heart: Cutting Back on Sodium May Be a Life Saver

    Did you know that the average American consumes more than twice the amount of sodium recommended by the American Heart Association? And worldwide people on average consume nearly double the levels recommended by the World Health Organization. Researchers have found that this consumption contributes to 2.3 million deaths per year from cardiovascular disease, primarily from coronary heart disease, which causes heart attack, and stroke. You can’t change your age or your family history of heart disease, but your sodium intake is a heart disease risk factor that you can do something about, starting today.

    Smoking Cessation

    Smoking is a primary risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Especially if you have heart disease, that’s reason enough to quit.

    Special Considerations for Your Diet

    When you have high blood pressure, heart failure, or heart valve disease, you should be aware of special dietary considerations that will contribute to your wellness. For many patients, these are critical for health and may even help manage symptoms and make you feel better.

    Stress Management

    A little stress in life is natural and good. It may help you buckle down and focus on a task at hand. But modern life is more stressful than ever.

    Symptoms of Hypertension

    Hypertension is called the “silent killer” because there are usually no symptoms and many people don’t know they have it. But uncontrolled hypertension can cause serious problems. Checking your blood pressure is the only way to know if you have hypertension.

    Tips to Flavor Your Food

    Slashing sodium doesn’t have to mean food has no flavor. Try these creative ways to add herbs and spices to your favorite foods.

    Treatment Options for Hypertension

    Making some lifestyle changes may help lower your blood pressure. But often one or more blood pressure medications are also needed to keep your blood pressure in the normal range. In the near future, you might find you are a candidate for renal denervation, a new treatment that can help lower blood pressure in some people.