What is hypertension?

It is more commonly called high blood pressure, and as many as half of all men over 60 have it. It is called “the silent killer” because it typically has no symptoms. Yet it can cause an aneurysm, blood clots, heart attack or stroke if it is left untreated and uncontrolled. Unfortunately, our poor lifestyle choices often contribute to high blood pressure. Bad eating habits can cause overweight and obesity, which directly affect circulation, not to mention blood sugar spikes from poor food choices. Smoking causes blood vessels to constrict repeatedly with each puff until the arterial walls weaken.

What are the symptoms of hypertension?

For most people with high blood pressure (HBP), there are no noticeable symptoms. Some people report feeling a constant low-level form of anxiety or “pressure from within” that they cannot explain until their doctor or a nurse checks their blood pressure. A normal blood pressure reading is expressed as 120/80 to show the systolic and diastolic values. Depending on your age, a reading of 140/85 is considered borderline HBP. Higher than that and you have hypertension.

How do we treat hypertension?

Medication and lifestyle changes are both critical components in successfully treating high blood pressure. If you are overweight, then losing weight will lower your blood pressure. If you smoke, quitting will lower your blood pressure. And if you have a high-salt diet, easing up on the salt can lower your blood pressure. Eating the right foods, especially lots of vegetables and fruits, can lower your blood pressure, too. In some cases, you can even eliminate the need for medication to control your blood pressure, but this requires a serious commitment to living a healthy lifestyle.

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