High Blood Pressure
What is High Blood Pressure?
Also known as: Hypertension
According to the American Heart Association, nearly one in three adults in the United States has high blood pressure. But nearly one-third of those people don’t know they have high blood pressure, because it’s a silent disease. People can have high blood pressure for years without experiencing symptoms or knowing they have it.
The upper or first number in a blood pressure reading is the systolic pressure and the lower or second number is called the diastolic pressure. According to National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute guidelines:
* Normal blood pressure is below 120/80 mmHg.
* Prehypertension is systolic pressure that’s between 120 to 139 or diastolic pressure between 80 and 89.
* Stage 1 hypertension is systolic pressure between 140 to 159 or diastolic pressure between 90 and 99.
* Stage 2 hypertension is systolic pressure higher than 160 or diastolic pressure of 100 or higher.
High Blood Pressure Symptoms
High blood pressure usually doesn’t cause any symptoms in the early stages. Symptoms associated with high blood pressure can include:
* Dizziness or dizzy spells
Causes of High Blood Pressure
In most cases of high blood pressure, the American Heart Association says there is no one identifiable cause. This kind of high blood pressure is called primary hypertension or essential hypertension. It is usually a combination of factors, such as:
* Weight. The greater your body mass, the more pressure there is on your artery walls. That’s because more blood is produced to supply oxygen and nutrients to tissues in your body.
* Activity level. Lack of physical activity tends to increase heart rate, which forces your heart to work harder with each contraction.
* Tobacco use. Chemicals in cigarettes and tobacco can damage artery walls.
* Sodium intake. Excessive sodium in the diet can result in fluid retention and high blood pressure, especially in people sensitive to sodium.
* Potassium intake. Low potassium can result in elevated sodium in cells, because the two balance one another.
* Stress. Stress can raise blood pressure.
* Alcohol consumption. Excessive alcohol intake can, over time, increase the risk of heart disease.
* Age. The risk of high blood pressure increases as you get older.
* Family history. High blood pressure often runs in families.
High blood pressure can also be caused by an underlying condition, such as kidney disease, hormonal disorders, thyroid disease, adrenal gland disease, and the use of certain drugs, such as oral contraceptives, or herbs such as licorice. This type of high blood pressure is called secondary hypertension.
Natural Remedies for High Blood Pressure
Lifestyle changes and natural remedies may help to control high blood pressure, but your doctor may also recommend medication to lower high blood pressure. It is important to work with your doctor, because untreated high blood pressure may damage organs in the body and increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, brain hemorrhage, kidney disease, and vision loss.