Monday, August 27, 2012

What You Should Know When It Comes To High Blood Pressure

These days, with the sedentary lifestyles of most Americans, coupled with the SAD (Standard American Diet), unfortunately you don’t have to be of advanced age to suffer from conditions people usually associate with that age group. One such condition is high blood pressure. Here is a basic overview of this dangerous condition, and why you should be aware of your blood pressure and measures you can take to keep it in a healthy range.

Blood pressure check
Blood pressure check (Photo credit: Army Medicine)
What Is Blood Pressure?
Blood is pumped through the body via the heart. The blood carries oxygen from the lungs to all of the cells and organs along the circuitous route of the arterial vascular system. Deoxygenated blood is carried via the venous system back to the lungs where it picks up more oxygen.

To move that blood, there is a certain amount of pressure that needs to be created within the vessel. Normally an acceptable blood pressure reflects two numbers: systolic (upper number), the pressure exerted when the heart is pumping blood and diastolic (lower number), the pressure exerted when the heart is at rest. Ideally blood pressure should be in the range of 140/90.

Higher numbers indicate that something is causing the pressure needed to move a volume of blood to increase. It could be due to a narrowing of the vessels (caused by high cholesterol or plaque build-up), stress, obesity, high salt intake or genetics. This condition is known as high blood pressure, or hypertension.

The Problems of High Blood Pressure
No matter how you acquired it, high blood pressure poses a problem for the rest of your body. Here are just a few of the conditions that can arise as a result.

English: Main complications of persistent high...
Main complications of persistent high blood pressure. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
* Artery damage – Increased stress on the arterial walls can result in the tissue being damaged. When any tissue is damaged, an inflammatory response occurs. The walls can thicken and stiffen, leading to a smaller lumen (opening) and a higher blood pressure. If you also have a problem with bad cholesterol plaques, the increased pressure could dislodge them, turning them into emboli (things that block the blood flow).

* Heart conditions – The heart has to work harder to push that same volume of blood when there is a problem with your blood pressure. As a result the heart can enlarge since it is a muscle. It can also fail, or experience an infarction in a portion of the muscle that can lead to a heart attack.

* Stroke – The cholesterol plaques that break off as a result of high blood pressure can travel along in the vascular system until they get stuck in a smaller vessel. This often happens in the lungs or the brain. Both can result in death. In the brain it is called a stroke.

Beyond the blockage, the brain tissue is not receiving oxygenated blood. Since the brain needs 20 percent more oxygen than the rest of the body, this can lead to decreased functioning like speech impairment, numbness or paralysis on one side of the body and other problems.

Are you facing a diagnosis of high blood pressure? Work to reduce it to normal levels and avoid the dangers it can pose. There are many things you can do to reduce your blood pressure to healthy levels - without resorting to dangerous drugs or surgery. Be sure to check back Wednesday for some easy and natural ways to keep your blood pressure within a healthy range.

* Please Note: This blog is for educational purposes only, and should not be taken as medical advice. Please consult an experienced health care provider if you have high blood pressure or another medical condition.
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