High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a medical condition that affects millions of people and can result in more serious conditions if untreated. High blood pressure alone is something that most people simply live with, but over time, it becomes a risk factor for heart attacks, heart failure, strokes, or even aneurysms. There are many potential causes for high blood pressure, but sometimes the condition is hereditary or no specific cause can be identified. As a result, it is prudent to know what can increase your exposure to the risks of high blood pressure and what you can do to prevent it. Also, if you are affected by high blood pressure, there are several things you should do to monitor and improve your condition.
There are two types of hypertension: essential, or primary, hypertension and secondary hypertension. Essential hypertension is the condition of having high blood pressure with no specific cause; while secondary hypertension is the direct result of another medical issue, such as sleep apnea or diseases of the kidney. Essential hypertension may not have a single specific cause, but there are several factors that play into the risk of developing that condition.
Obesity is one such risk factor. There is a scientifically confirmed link between hypertensive and obesity, and it is estimated that the obese are more likely to develop hypertension by a factor of five. Too much sodium intake in the diet can also lead to high blood pressure because salt in the bloodstream causes the body to release more water into the bloodstream, resulting in the increase in pressure. Renin, an enzyme of the kidney, is important for neutralizing the effects of other chemicals produced within the body. A person with low levels of renin secretion is also at risk of developing hypertension. Hypertension as a result of low renin levels is more common in African-American patients.
Two other factors that play a significant role in the likelihood of developing hypertension are age and heredity. Neither of these factors alone will account for high blood pressure, but will lead to other conditions that put you at risk for high blood pressure. Age, for example, will not directly lead to hypertension, but the tension of the arteries in the body to become stiff with age does create a hypertension risk factor. Heredity can also be an indirect cause of hypertension, as certain common genetic defects have been identified as possible risk factors.
If you are affected by hypertension, it is very important for your long-term health to try to lower your blood pressure. Among the first steps you should take would be to buy a blood pressure monitor. Use the blood pressure monitor to keep a record of your progress as you try to improve the condition. The best way to lower your blood pressure or prevent it from rising is to exercise. Regular exercise will improve the blood flow and benefits your health in too many ways to name. Reducing the amount of salty foods in the diet as well as tobacco and alcohol will also lower blood pressure. Finally, stress reduction techniques such as meditation or simple relaxation will also lead to a lower blood pressure.