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Dangers Behind High Blood Pressure By Kimberly Murphy

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Overview and Effects of High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, or hypertension, can affect anyone at any age. It is often referred to as the “silent killer”, and is the most common type of cardiovascular disease.  Blood pressure refers to the force of blood pushing against the artery walls as it moves through the body.  Blood pressure can vary from minute to minute depending on such factors as stress and activity level.  Two numbers compose a blood pressure reading.  The first is the systolic reading: this is the measure of the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats and fills them with blood.  The second reading is the diastolic: this is the pressure in the arteries when the heart rests between beats.

Normal adult blood pressure readings are around 120/80.  Anyone with two or more readings of blood pressure exceeding 140/90 is said to be experiencing hypertension.  There are several types of hypertension.  They include secondary hypertension, which is hypertension caused by another disease or disorder; malignant hypertension, which is extremely high blood pressure that develops rapidly and causes some type of organ damage; pre-hypertension, which is anyone who experiences a blood pressure reading of over 120/80 at least 3 separate times; and renal hypertension, which is elevated blood pressure due to kidney disease.

The effects of hypertension can lead to several serious health conditions, and this is the reason that high blood pressure needs to be monitored and treated.  Some of the conditions that hypertension can lead to or elevate one’s risk for include atherosclerosis, stroke, heart disease, kidney or eye disease, diabetes, and erectile dysfunction.

Symptoms and Diagnosis
One of the reasons that high blood pressure is so dangerous is that many people don’t even know that they have it.  High blood pressure carries very few symptoms, so the only way that you know if you have it or not, is by regular check-ups.  Extremely high blood pressure does carry some symptoms such as severe headaches, fatigue or confusion, vision problems, chest pain, difficulty in breathing, irregular heartbeat, and pounding in the chest, neck, or ears.  High blood pressure is usually diagnosed by a health care provider by monitoring your blood pressure.  A doctor will look at your health history and consider such personal risk factors as weight, smoking habits, drug abuse, advanced age, high cholesterol, or diabetes.  They will also consider your family health history to determine if high blood pressure is hereditary.  Commonly, a doctor will order additional tests such as an electrocardiogram or an echocardiogram to determine the effects that hypertension has had on the body.

Prevention and Treatment
Luckily, many times high blood pressure can be controlled by lifestyle changes made by the patient.  Such changes include: losing weight, quitting smoking, eating a more healthy diet, reducing sodium intake, getting regular exercise, and limiting alcohol intake to 2 or fewer drinks per day for men and 1 drink per day for women.  There are also numerous prescription drugs, including ACE inhibitors and diuretics, which can be prescribed to help control blood pressure as well.  It is important to schedule regular check-ups with your doctor to determine if the steps you are taking to control high blood pressure are effectively controlling it.

Wrap-up and Conclusion 
High blood pressure is a very serious condition.  It is both serious and dangerous because many people don’t even know that they suffer from this disease.  It is the most common cardiovascular disease with over 74 million people, in the United States alone, suffering from this condition.  This disease can lead to several serious health conditions including heart and kidney disease, atherosclerosis, stroke, and diabetes.  However, the good news is that it usually can be controlled by lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise. Prescription drugs are also available to help control high blood pressure, though care needs to be taken because certain prescription drugs (not including those used for treatment) can lead to elevated blood pressure.  Although high blood pressure is very dangerous, simply recognizing that you suffer from this disease and following specific and guided steps to combat this problem can not only help you combat this disease but lead to a healthier lifestyle.

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