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What is high blood pressure?

High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is a condition in which the blood pressure is greater than acceptable limits on at least two different measurements taken on two separate occassions or office visits. The American College of Cardiology (ACC) defines high blood pressure as > 130/80 mmHg for some patients, the goal blood pressure may be different. For example, patients with congestive heart failure are often treated with blood pressure medications that may results in a much lower blood pressure.

What causes high blood pressure?

There are many factors that scientists have found to be associated with high blood pressure, but the true cause of most cases is not always known. We know the age and genetics play a large role even in the healthiest of patients. Other factors known to be associated with hypertension include: - Obesity - Cigarette smoking - Excess sodium and/or salt intake - Lack of exercise - Alcohol - Drugs or medications that raise the blood pressure In cases in which blood pressure is very or or difficult to control, so-call "resistant hypertension", there may be other causes, although less common. These include: - Kidney disease - Sleep apnea - Primary Hyperaldosteronism - Renal Artery Stenosis - Pheochromocytoma - Cushing syndrome - Thyroid abnormalities (too high or too low) - Aortic coarctation - Other adrenal and pituitary gland problems

What are the risks of high blood pressure?

Hypertension is often termed the "silent killer" because it can cause little symptoms until serious problems develop. Long-term, hypertension is associated with an increased risk of heart attacks, heart failure, strokes, aneurysms, and blockages in the blood vessels of the legs and aorta.

Does salt affect blood pressure?

Many studies have shown that sodium (the chemical that makes up salt) is associated with higher blood pressure, however not all adults are sensitive to the effects of sodium. In addition to table salt, sodium tends to be hidden in many common foods, including: - Bread - Pizza - Smoked, salted, cured or canned meats, fish or poultry including cold cuts - Canned soup or broth - Processed cheese - Many condiments and seasonings, including salt, soy sauce, and salted butter

What can be done to lower blood pressure naturally?

Fortunately, if you do have high blood pressure, there are many steps you can take to help lower it. The first step involves a careful discussion with your doctor about potential factors that may be contributing to your high blood pressure. Once you have been evaluated, the following "lifestyle interventions" have been shown to improve blood pressure: - Weight loss if you are overweight and/or obese - Increase physican activity (even without weight loss) - Heart-health diet, such as the DASH diet or Mediterranean diet - Reducing sodium in the diet - Using potassium supplements (if recommended by your doctor) - Limited alcohol intake (less than 2 drinks/day for men, 1 drink /day for women) - If a "secondary cause" if your hypertension has been identified, treatment of this factor

What medications are used to lower blood pressure?

There are many medications your doctor may prescribe to lower blood pressure. Because each patient imay have differences in body composition, underlying medical conditions and other factors, medications may vary widely from patient to patient. The following are potential blood pressure medications - Thiazides: Hydrochlorothiazide, chlorthalidone, metolazone, indapamide - ACE inhibitors: Lisinopril, Fosinopril, BEnazepril, Enalapril, Ramipril, Quinapril - ARBs: Losartan, Valsartan, Candesartan, Olmesartan, Telmisartan - Calcium channel blockers: Amlodipine, nifedipine, nicardipine, felodipine, diltiazem, verapamil, - Loops: Furosemide, torsemide, bumetamine, amiloride, triamterene - Aldotsterone antagonists: Eplerenone, spironolactone - Beta blockers: Atenolol, metoprolol, carvedolol, labetalol, bisoprolol, nadalol, acebutolol, propranolol - Renin inhibitors: Aliskiren - Alpha blockers: Doxazosin, prazosin, terazosin, clonidine, methyldopa - Vasodilators: Hydralazine, minoxidil

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