High Blood Pressure is also known as hypertension and that is exactly what the word means: hyper= high and tension= pressure. The condition has been called the silent killer because it does not have any signs or symptoms that are obvious, and it can be found in almost every age group. In fact, many of the people who do know they have hypertension discovered it quite by accident during a visit to the doctor for some other reason. There may be millions of people in the world who have it and don’t even realize it.

Blood pressure is the pressure or force your blood places on the arterial walls as it moves through your bloodstream. When the pressure is too high, your heart has to work harder than it would normally. This can result in it becoming enlarged over the course of time. Too much pressure on your arterial wall also can cause small bulge like defects to develop called aneurysms. These defects weaken over time and can burst leading to strokes or other serious medical problems. High blood pressure is also known to contribute to hardening of the arteries or atherosclerosis.

When you visit your physician, you will always have your blood pressure taken with the familiar cuff and bulb device. The resultant blood pressure reading is two numbers, one on top of the other like a fraction or ratio. The number at the top represents the amount of pressure generated by the heart when it pumps your blood out into the arteries. This is called systolic pressure. The other lower number is called diastolic pressure. This measures the pressure in your arteries between beats when your heart is at rest. When your arterial pressure is consistently above 140/90, you are suffering from high blood pressure or hypertension. The amount of blood your heart pumps, the actions of your heart, and the size and condition of your arteries, all contribute to how much pressure is present in your arteries.

There are two major types of hypertension. The first is Primary or essential hypertension and accounts for 95% of the diagnosed cases. This has no single cause. Many things can combine to bring about an increase in blood pressure.

Secondary hypertension makes up only 5-10 percent of the known cases. This form of hypertension has a known cause. One of the other organs in your body has developed a defect that causes your blood pressure to rise above normal levels. Treatment of the organ with the defect may bring your blood pressure down to normal levels or at least make the levels easier to control.

There are certain lifestyle changes that can lower your blood pressure. If you are overweight or obese, you should try to lose weight. The excess weight is taxing to your heart and contributes to hypertension. Exercise to lose the extra pounds. A side benefit to the weight loss is exercise builds endurance and strengthens you heart. A healthy diet also helps with the weight loss. Trim the calories and fats you consume. You should especially cut back on salt which raises your blood pressure.

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