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.

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