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High Blood Pressure

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Blood pressure is the force of blood against artery walls. Blood pressure readings measure this force – the top number is when the heart is pumping blood into the arteries and the bottom number represents the artery pressure between heartbeats as the heart rests.

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is the most common type of cardiovascular disease. The more blood pumped by the heart and the narrower the arteries, the higher the blood pressure. Though high blood pressure typically doesn't cause any symptoms, it can damage blood vessels and cause health problems such as heart disease, stroke, and brain, kidney, or eye conditions.

High blood pressure usually develops over many years but is easily detected and can often be controlled with medications. Adopting healthy lifestyle habits may help reduce it. As a guideline, blood pressure less than 120/80 is considered normal. Borderline hypertension is 120–139/80–89 and anything over 140/90 is usually diagnosed as high blood pressure.

Ways to Reduce High Blood Pressure
  • If overweight, lose weight
  • Stop smoking
  • Do 30 minutes of physical activity – aerobics, running or a brisk walk – most days of the week
  • Eat a diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables and low–fat dairy products
  • Limit intake of saturated and total fats
  • Limit salt intake
  • Limit alcohol consumption to 1 drink (1.5 oz. hard liquor, 4 oz. wine or 12 oz. beer) per day for women and 2 drinks for men
Signs of High Blood Pressure

Symptoms rarely occur with high blood pressure but seek medical help for the following conditions:

  • Headache
  • Blurry eyesight
  • Difficulty talking or walking
  • Chest pain
  • Trouble breathing