The subject of high blood pressure is important to all of us, due to the long term health complications if left uncontrolled. The risk of developing high blood pressure increases as we grow older; therefore, it is important to know the risk factors to prevent long term health complications. If left uncontrolled your chances increase for suffering a stroke, developing heart disease, kidney disease and eye disease.
At the present time the desirable pressure is 120/70 for most people.
It is not unusual for all of us to have periods of elevated pressure. Situations in which we are extremely stressed and exercising ourselves can cause an elevation in pressure. If we all had our pressure monitored 24 hours per day there would likely be periods that it was above normal. The main concern is when our pressure remains elevated all the time. The medical term for chronic elevations in pressure is hypertension.
There are controllable and uncontrollable risk factors for developing hypertension.
The following are controllable risk factors:
1. Overweight- anyone that has a body mass index higher than recommended is at risk of developing hypertension. It is important that you know your body mass index.
2. Sedentary Lifestyle- the less active you are the more likely you are to become overweight. When you are overweight your heart has to work harder, and your chances of developing hardening of the arteries increases. Hardening of the arteries causes them to become stiffer and less able to relax for appropriate pressure control.
3. Smoking- the nicotine in tobacco causes your heart rate to increase and the blood vessels to constrict, which may elevate your pressure.
4. Alcohol Consumption- excessive alcohol intake can raise the blood pressure and your intake should only be in moderation.
5. Sodium Intake- sodium causes the body to retain fluid. The increase in fluid retention can raise your pressure. It is important to watch your salt or sodium intake if you are at risk of developing hypertension.
6. Lack Of Exercise- this is similar to having a sedentary lifestyle. Exercise is shown to lower blood pressure, improve your body weight, lower your risk of heart disease and hardening of the arteries.
7. Stressful Lifestyle- stress increases your bodies release of epinephrine. Epinephrine causes constriction of the blood vessels which raises your blood pressure. Some stress can be useful; however, long term stress can lead to serious health complications.
The above risk factors can usually be controlled by taking the appropriate steps to living a healthy lifestyle.
The following are uncontrollable risk factors:
1. Inherited- the risk of developing hypertension can be transferred from generation to generation. If your parents experienced hypertension your chances of developing it are increased.
2. Aging- difficulty with high blood pressure tends to occur after age 35 unless you have one of the secondary causes.
3. Male Versus Female- males are more prone to developing hypertension at a youngger age in comparison to women. Women are more prone to developing it after they are postmenopausal.
4. Racial Factors- the black population is at greater risk of developing hypertension. Their problems with hypertension also tend to be more severe than the caucasian population.
Knowledge of your risk factors for developing high blood pressure is the key to preventing or treating high blood pressure. It is important to discuss your blood pressure with your doctor. If you have high blood pressure the two of you can develop a strategy for improving your blood pressure and lower your risk of long term complications.