Monday, June 30, 2008

The Silent Killer

It's called the silent killer. It does not reveal itself to the sufferer in alarming symptoms but works quietly and insidiously through the years, damaging the heart and blood vessels. Left untreated, it can lead to heart attack, stroke and kidney failure. As many as one-third of people with this condition do not know they have it, yet it can be detected with a simple test, and controlled with proper treatment. This silent killer is hypertension, or high blood pressure. Blood pressure is the force of the blood on the arterial walls and the responding pressure of the arteries as they resist.

You may be diagnosed with prehypertension if your blood pressure consistently falls in the range of 120-129 systolic and 80-89 diastolic pressure. Treatment to lower your blood pressure should start now.

High blood pressure is divided into two stages:

Stage 1 - Systolic 140-159 or Diastolic 90-99
Stage 2 - Systolic over 160 or Diastolic over 100

Treatment:

There are several types of medicines used to help lower blood pressure. If you are diagnosed with hypertension, your doctor will prescribe medication in conjunction with lifestyle changes to help keep your blood pressure under control. Sometimes drugs are used in combination to produce the best result. The patient can assist in their own treatment in the following ways:

* Maintaining a healthy weight
* Eating a healthy diet that is low in fat and cholesterol
* Limiting salt intake
* Getting moderate exercise
* Quitting smoking
* Reducing and managing stress
* Limiting alcohol intake to two drinks per day for men, one drink per day for women

Remember, only your doctor can diagnose high blood pressure, so have it checked regularly and follow your doctor's recommendations.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Cholesterol and Your Health

How do you know if you have high blood cholesterol? There are no symptoms associated with high cholesterol, you can't feel it or see it. The only way to find out if your cholesterol levels are elevated is to have a blood test.

Cholesterol is a waxy, fatty substance produced by the human body and is found in every cell. The body uses cholesterol to aid in the digestion of certain foods, produce some hormones and make Vitamin D. Why then, if cholesterol does all these good things, do we hear it is so bad for us?

The answer lies in the fact that the body produces its own cholesterol. Therefore, additional intake of the cholesterol is not needed and because of the effects of excess cholesterol in the body, it can lead to serious medical conditions.

Eventually, excess cholesterol in your blood can lead to fatty deposits in blood vessels that narrow them and restrict the flow of blood. This narrowing of the blood vessels is called atherosclerosis. These fatty deposits, called plaque, can lead to heart disease, blood clot and stroke.

Plaque deposits can cause restricted blood flow in other parts of the body as well. Peripheral Arterial Disease, or PAD, is caused by fatty deposits in the arteries that supply blood to the legs. The insufficiency of blood to the limbs leads to pain, cramping, disability and even amputation.

The dangers associated with high cholesterol are many, but detection and treatment can lower your risk for most. Make sure you know what your cholesterol levels are. If they are high, talk to your doctor about diet, lifestyle changes and medication to bring your cholesterol into the recommended range.

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