14 Nov Six risk factors for high blood pressure people should know
High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is a primary risk factor for atherosclerosis, cardiovascular diseases, stroke, and kidney failure. Often the physical effects of hypertension are not noticed; therefore it is important to get screened and to know the risk factors for developing hypertension (Rolfes, Pinna, & Whitney, 2009). Desirable blood pressure is 120/80. 120 is the systolic pressure (when the heart contracts) and 80 is the diastolic (when the heart relaxes). For each 20 above in systolic and for each 10 above diastolic the risk of death from cardiovascular disease doubles (Rolfes et al., 2009). A number of risk factors for developing high blood pressure have been identified and include the following:
Genetics – It runs in families and is also more prevalent in African Americans
Poor diet – Fast food and processed foods are generally low in nutritional value and often high in fat and sodium
Obesity – Approximately 60% of the obese population has hypertension
Salt sensitivity – 30-50% of individuals are sensitive to salt
Aging – Two-thirds of people older than 65 have hypertension
Alcohol – Three or more drinks daily is strongly associated with hypertension
If you have hypertension the goal of treatment is to reduce blood pressure to <140/<90. Lifestyle modifications are implemented first, in the reduction of high blood pressure, and you guessed it that means exercise and healthy eating habits. The DASH Eating Plan, recommended by physicians for hypertension and high cholesterol, is a diet rich in fruits; vegetables; low fat or nonfat dairy; whole grains; lean meats, fish and poultry; nuts and beans (Rolfes et al., 2009). Visit www.dashdiet.org for valuable information. Weight reduction can reduce blood pressure considerably, but if hypertension persists drug therapies are added to treatment. Often two or more medications are needed to meet blood pressure goals (Rolfes et al., 2009). Hypertension is a big deal, as it increases risk factors for serious health complications. Knowing your numbers and risk factors gives you the information you need to stay proactive about your health.
Rolfes, S. R., Pinna, K., & Whitney, E. (2009). Understanding normal and clinical nutrition
(8th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.