High Blood Pressure: What You Need to Know

blood pressure

We are told that high blood pressure is a major risk factor for many serious health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease.  However, what causes high blood pressure, and how does it affect our bodies?

Effects of High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure, or hypertension, can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, obesity, high sodium intake, low potassium intake, low physical activity or alcohol consumption. 

High blood pressure can cause damage to your heart, arteries, brain and kidneys.  Damaged vessels can also affect your eyes, and even your sleep!  These reasons are why it is so important to prevent and manage high blood pressure. 

In addition, high blood pressure accounts for more cardiovascular deaths than any other risk factor and is the cause of 25 percent of all cardiovascular events, such as a heart attack or stroke.  Over time, it can also lead to heart failure.  

New Blood Pressure Guidelines

Last year, the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association altered the guidelines for the detection, prevention, management and treatment of high blood pressure.  High blood pressure should be treated with lifestyle changes, and in some patients with medication, at 130/80 mm Hg rather than 140/90. 

Natural Treatments for High Blood Pressure

So what are the best natural treatments for hypertension?  Certainly, weight management, physical activity and a healthy diet are key. A diet low in sodium and high in potassium is also ideal.  Strive for no more than 1,500 mg of sodium per day and at least 3,500 mg of potassium.  It is also important to keep alcohol consumption low, limiting one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.

If lifestyle modifications are not enough, medication may be needed to treat hypertension.  Your doctor will recommend a prescription that is best for you based on your medical history.

If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, your health is dependent upon keeping these factors in control.  Speak with your doctor about your potential treatment options and which may be best for your particular situation.

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Dr. Kris Lindsay

Written by Dr. Kris Lindsay