PLANO, Texas - It can sneak up on you or can become a life-long problem. High blood pressure comes in many forms.
"There are a billion people in the world that have hypertension high blood pressure," said David L. Brown, MD, director of interventional cardiology and co-director of CV Research at the Heart Hospital Baylor Plano in Plano, Texas.
But how much do you know about this common problem?
Fact or fiction: You need to monitor both arms when measuring blood pressure. Fact: A British study found differences in blood pressure between left and right arms could increase the risk of death.
Fact or fiction: Leaving the table salt on the table lowers your risk. Fiction: Not necessarily! Up to 75 percent of the sodium you consume is hidden in processed foods, so check your labels, too.
Fact or fiction: A small increase in blood pressure isn't a big deal. Fiction: "For every ten millimeters of blood pressure increase, you have the doubling of heart attacks, the doubling of strokes," said Brown.
Fact or fiction: Do men and women have an equal risk for high blood pressure? Fact: While men tend to develop the condition at a younger age, women catch up after menopause.
Fact or fiction: Only meds can lower blood pressure. Fiction: Lifestyle makes a difference! The Dash Diet can reduce blood pressure in just 14 days; and by 8 to 14 points over time.
Fact or Fiction: Are warning signs really hard to spot? Fact: Besides a rare headache, high blood pressure usually has no signs or symptoms.
The American Heart Association recommends limiting daily sodium intake to no more than 1,500 milligrams. When you consume too much sodium, your body holds extra water to "wash" the salt from your body. This can cause blood pressure to rise. The added water puts stress on your heart and blood vessels.
About 1 in 3 adults in the United States has high blood pressure (HBP). The condition itself usually has no signs or symptoms. You can have it for years without knowing it. During this time, though, HBP can damage your heart, blood vessels, kidneys, and other parts of your body. HBP is a serious condition that can lead to coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke, kidney failure, and other health problems. (SOURCE: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health)
SYMPTOMS: High blood pressure is a symptomless disease, so it is often referred to as the "silent killer." Although a few people with early-stage high blood pressure may have dull headaches, dizzy spells or a few more nosebleeds than normal, these signs and symptoms typically don't occur until high blood pressure has reached a severe -- even life-threatening -- stage. (Source: http://www.heart.org; www.mayoclinic.com)
KNOW YOUR NUMBERS: Blood pressure is measured as systolic and diastolic pressures. "Systolic" refers to blood pressure when the heart beats while pumping blood. "Diastolic" refers to blood pressure when the heart is at rest between beats. Knowing your blood pressure numbers is important, even when you're feeling fine.
RISKS FACTORS: High blood pressure has many risk factors, including:
Although high blood pressure is most common in adults, children may be at risk, too. For some children, high blood pressure is caused by problems with the kidneys or heart. But for a growing number of kids, poor lifestyle habits -- such as an unhealthy diet and lack of exercise -- contribute to high blood pressure. (Source: www.mayoclinic.com)
TREATMENT: HBP is treated with lifestyle changes and medicines. The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (the DASH diet) is a lifelong approach to healthy eating that's designed to help treat or prevent high blood pressure (hypertension). The DASH diet encourages patients to reduce the sodium in their diet and eat a variety of foods rich in nutrients that help lower blood pressure, such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium. For a Dash Diet sample menu log onto http://dashdiet.org/sample_menu.asp
(Source: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health; www.mayoclinic.com)
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