Did you know that one in every three American adults have abnormally high blood pressure?
Your heart pushes blood through the vessels to all body organs and tissues. The force, which blood flow applies against artery walls is called blood pressure.
Constriction of the arteries, as well as increase of circulating blood, can significantly raise your blood pressure.
This may happen as a result of certain health problems like overactive thyroid gland, Cushing’s disease, hormone-producing tumor and kidney dysfunction. It’s also possible that medications such as oral contraceptives, over-the-counter painkillers and decongestants cause elevation of blood pressure (medically called hypertension).
However in vast majority of cases no underlying disease is found in those who live with high blood pressure. If no cause is identified, condition is called essential hypertension.
The problem is that you may live with high blood pressure many years and don’t know about it. Hypertension may stay symptomless for a long time. But nevertheless it continues to damage vessels and worsen heart functioning.
Risks of hypertension increase with age. Ethnicity was found to play a role too, as African Americans are more likely to develop high blood pressure and its serious complications (stroke, myocardial infarction, kidney failure).
Hypertension runs in families. So if your mother suffers from elevated blood pressure, your chances of getting it are really high.
We can’t change our age and race, but we can do a lot with lifestyle. Be aware that these potentially modifiable factors can boost your risks for high blood pressure:
#1. Excessive weight – the more weight you carry, the harder you heart has to work. It was found that volume of circulated blood increases in obese individuals and pressure on the artery walls gets raised too.
#2. Physical inactivity – if you sit the whole day long and don’t exercise, excessive weight may be your big problem. In addition to this, lack of physical activity leads to detraining of your heart muscle and boosts risks of diabetes.
#3. Smoking – chemicals contained in tobacco can damage arteries’ lining. This can narrow them and increase blood pressure. Try to stay far from people with cigarettes. Even secondhand smoking can bring a lot of harm to your health.
#4. Taking too much sodium – not only saturated fats and sugar are enemies for your health. Eating too much salt may lead to fluid retaining and high blood pressure.
#5. Alcohol abuse – binge drinking is associated with high number of health issues, including hypertension and heart disease. If you want to drink something, take a glass of red wine, which is full of heart-friendly antioxidants. But don’t over do with it. Specialists advise taking no more than one alcohol beverage a day for women and two – for men.
#6. Stress – many of us try to calm their nerves, drinking too much alcohol, smoking or eating high-calorie foods. This can’t really help you relax, but may contribute to hypertension. It’s probably better to visit yoga group, try progressive muscle relaxation technique or meet your friends to cope with negative emotions and stay healthy.