High Blood Pressure: The Silent Killer

high blood pressure

High Blood Pressure or Hypertension is known as the silent killer. It is a condition that occurs without symptoms for many years and in most cases the cause is unknown. Genetic or environmental are the most explained reasons.

Blood pressure is the pressure your blood gives against your blood vessel walls as your heart pumps. Blood pressure rises with each heartbeat and falls when the heart relaxes between beats despite the fact that there is always pressure between the beats in the arteries.

Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury. Normal blood pressure in adults should be less than 120/80 mm Hg. The higher, or top, number is called systolic pressure and represents the pressure at the peak of each heartbeat. It represents the when your heart is squeezing out the blood and the lower, or bottom; number is called diastolic and represents the pressure when the heart is resting between beats and filling with blood.

Blood pressure is measured using a medical instrument called a sphygmomanometer. A cuff is wrapped around a person’s upper arm and pumped up to create pressure. When the cuff is inflated, it squeezes on a large artery in the arm, stopping the blood flow for a moment. Blood pressure is measured as air is gradually let out of the cuff, which allows blood to begin to flow through the artery again when the blood pressure in the artery is greater than the pressure in the cuff. Listening with a stethoscope over the artery allows a doctor or nurse to hear the first pulse as the blood flows through. The systolic pressure is when the pressure is first heart and diastolic is when the pressure disappears.

HBP or High Blood Pressure develops when there are expanded or contracted veins, arterioles, capillaries, or arteries. This condition causes extra pressure on the body with increased or blood flow. When the pressure increases HBP develops it damages organs such as kidneys, or brain may develop. It also causes eye problems, stroke, heart attack, heart failure and kidney failure. Secondary factors to HBP such as smoking, high cholesterol and diabetes can magnify the problem. Alcohol, sodium and caffeine also trigger attacks. Medicines such as birth control pills, NASDs, anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen, cold medicines and corticosteroids can cause or intensify HBP. Illegal drugs such as amphetamines and cocaine can add to the condition. Stress and intense workouts can also cause HBP. Blood pressure changes from minute to minute and is affected not only by activity and rest, but also by temperature, diet, emotional state, posture, and medications.

There is a lot that I can do to eliminate many of the symptoms of high blood pressure. You can eliminate or lessen this condition by having a healthy weight for your height and exercise regularly to control or maintain weight. Exercise also helps keep your heart and blood vessels strong and healthy. Eat a healthy diet that includes lots of fruits and vegetables. Lower your fat intake and aim for healthy omega fats in your diet. Don’t smoke. Keep your stress levels in check. It may help to practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises.  Tai Chi and Yoga may help in stress reduction. Decrease your sodium and avoid drinking too much alcohol. Know your blood pressure and have it checked regularly because, although high blood pressure is more common in adults, hypertension can occur at any age.

References

American Heart Association

http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=468

Family Doctor

http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/common/heartdisease/risk/092.html

Health Central

http://www.healthcentral.com/high-blood-pressure/

Kids Health

http://www.kidshealth.org/teen/diseases_conditions/heart/hypertension.html

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Christina Chapan

Christina Lee Steele Chapan is a certified personal trainer with four certifications from ISSA ACE, AFAA and SCW. She specializes with fitness for children ( Fit 4 Fun!) and those adults and children with special needs. In addition to attaining her certifications, she is also a certified elementary and special education school teacher with a B.S. in Elementary Education, a minor in Biblical Studies from North Central University, an endorsement in Special Education, and an M.A. in Curriculum and Development from Governors State University. Her passion is for training the future of tomorrow. She is available for training, speaking and writing.

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