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Hypertension

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    D E S C R I P T I O N

    The pressure of the blood in the arteries increases when the heart muscle pumps and decreases when the heart relaxes again. If this pressure is higher than normal, it means the heart is working too hard. The extra workload on the heart and arteries can lead to heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, eye damage and blood vessel injury. A blood pressure reading of 140/90 mmHg is considered high.


    R I S K

    Certain factors increase the risk of high blood pressure. Among them are a family history of the condition, heavy alcohol consumption, lack of regular exercise and the use of birth control pills. In addition, those who are male, overweight, of African-American heritage or sensitive to salt are in a higher risk group.


    S Y M P T O M S

    Hypertension often does not have symptoms, but the most common are headaches, dizziness and lightheadedness; however, these indicators are often so mild that they are ignored. The only reliable way of diagnosing hypertension is with regular blood pressure measurements.


    T R E A T M E N T

    Treatment for mild hypertension:

    • Limit salt intake to reduce the volume of fluid in the body.
    • Lose weight.
    • Exercise regularly.
    • Limit alcohol intake to one to two drinks a day.
    • Reduce stress by practicing relaxation techniques.

    Treatment for moderate to severe hypertension:

    • Practice lifestyle modifications recommended for mild hypertension.
    • Follow a doctor-prescribed regimen of drug therapy.


    P R E V E N T I O N

    • Maintain a healthy weight.
    • Avoid excess salt.
    • Exercise regularly.
    • Monitor medications that may elevate blood pressure.
    • Limit alcohol intake to one to two drinks a day.

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