High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a major risk factor for heart attacks, strokes, heart and kidney failure or even death, claiming the lives of nearly 500,000 Americans every year. Blood pressure is the force created by blood pushing against the walls of arteries. When the pressure is too forceful, it creates high blood pressure, known as hypertension, which may add potential risk of damage to the heart, arteries, and other organs. Many people suffer from hypertension without knowing it because it has no symptoms. Hypertension is more common in men than women, in blacks than whites and in people over the age of 65.
Researcher Dr. Earl S. Ford, medical officer with the U.S. Public Health Service at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said death rates are “going down for everybody with high blood pressure, but despite the availability of several types of medication to reduce blood pressure, there is still a large gap between those with hypertension and those without,”
Ford’s statement is based on two recent studies: the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) I Epidemiologic Follow-up Study, which followed adults ages 25 to 74 for a duration averaging seventeen years, and the NHANES II study, which followed adults of the same age group for about 14 years.
During the NHANES I study, the death rate was 18.8 deaths per 1,000 people among those having hypertension, which was 42 percent higher than people who did not have the condition. In the second study, NHANES II, the death rate did decrease to 14.3 deaths per 1,000 people among those with high blood pressure.
Hypertension has been linked to a range of lifestyle factors including lack of exercise, consumption of too much sodium, obesity and stress. Having high blood pressure increases the risk for heart disease and stroke, and is a leading cause of death among Americans.
If you have high blood pressure there are ways to lower and keep it in check. Diet and exercise, as well as reducing stress, are the obvious solutions. Low-carb diets have been proven to lower your blood pressure, so you might try either Atkins or the South Beach Diet, reviews of which can be found on the HealthNews Diet Pages. And according to HealthNews columnist Melanie Grimes, you can lower your blood pressure naturally through specific vitamins, foods and natural remedies.
Studies suggest that home monitors can improve blood pressure control. Monitors are especially recommended for heart and kidney patients, pregnant women, diabetics, and people over 65.
“The evidence is quite strong that home blood pressure monitoring leads to better control of blood pressure, and the evidence is quite strong that blood pressure control lowers the risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney failure and sudden death,” said Dr. Sidney Wolfe of the consumer group Public Citizen, adding that a 2-point drop in the reading results in a 4% drop in heart disease deaths.
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