We may be familiar with the condition “high blood pressure,” wherein, as the name suggests, our blood pressure is high. But what exactly does that mean for our lifestyle and how does it impact our health?
What Is Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure is the pressure exerted by our blood on our arteries. When we have high blood pressure, this pressure is greater than what is considered normal. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 47% of Americans experience high blood pressure.
What Is the Normal Blood Pressure? What Is High Blood Pressure?
The normal blood pressure is less than 120/80. Whenever either number starts to go up, it means that you are no longer within the normal range.
Stage 1 high blood pressure begins at 130-139/80-89 and stage 2 high blood pressure is at 140 and above/90 and above. Anything higher than 180/120 is considered a hypertension crisis and requires immediate medical attention.
What Causes High Blood Pressure and Who Is at Risk?
According to the CDC, a number of factors contribute to high blood pressure including:
Age: High blood pressure usually occurs in adults over the age of 60 years.
Ethnicity: African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, and Native Americans are at a greater risk of developing high blood pressure.
Obesity: Being overweight or obese means that you have extra weight that puts stress on your heart. This, in turn, leads to high blood pressure.
Excess Alcohol Consumption: Alcohol consumption can lead to high blood pressure.
Smoking: Smoking increases the risk of heart disease and therefore, your blood pressure.
Sedentary Lifestyle: Physical inactivity increases your risk for heart disease and high blood pressure.
Diabetes: Diabetes means that there is too much sugar in the blood. This has an adverse effect on blood flow and therefore increases the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure.
What Are the Effects of High Blood Pressure?
Even though it may not be immediately life-threatening, high blood pressure is a sign of a number of problems that you should be worried about. Severe high blood pressure causes reduced blood flow to the brain and the heart. This leads to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and even death. Even with mild high blood pressure, there are still a number of effects that can be very detrimental to your health.
The following list highlights some of the effects of high blood pressure:
- Pre-heart attack
- Inflammation of the heart
- Heart attack, which can be fatal
- Kidney failure or renal failure
- Heart failure
- Sudden death
How Can You Reduce High Blood Pressure to a Healthy Level?
The best way to reduce your high blood pressure is to make a number of lifestyle changes. This can help ensure that your blood pressure stays at a healthy level for many years.
The following steps can help you deal with your high blood pressure:
- Quit smoking as it increases your blood pressure.
- Maintain a healthy weight as overweight and obese people are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure.
- Exercise regularly. This will help strengthen your heart and lower your blood pressure.
- Eat a healthy diet. Foods that are high in sodium, like processed and canned foods, should be avoided as they can cause high blood pressure. Eat more fruits, vegetables, and fish to ensure you have a well-balanced diet.
- Limit your intake of alcohol. Alcohol can cause high blood pressure,and it increases the likelihood of heart disease.
High blood pressure is a condition that millions of Americans have to deal with every day. It is not a life-threatening condition but still has the potential to have deadly effects if not properly addressed through lifestyle changes. You should take your blood pressure readings seriously and start taking the necessary precautions to ensure it stays at a healthy level.
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