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Developing hypertension is one of the consequences of a stressful and unhealthy lifestyle and black people are racially predisposed to developing hypertension.


These days, we live such hectic lives and many of us pay little or no attention to our bodies and how it responds to our day to day habits. Developing hypertension is one of the consequences of a stressful and unhealthy lifestyle and with black people being racially predisposed to developing hypertension, it is important to know a bit more about this disease. Here are answers to frequently asked questions about hypertension – commonly called high blood pressure.

What causes high blood pressure?

While the cause of primary high blood pressure remains unknown, factors that could increase the chances of developing the condition include high salt intake, excessive alcohol consumption, lack of exercise, stress, smoking, obesity, age, and family history.

What are systolic and diastolic blood pressures?

Blood pressure is assessed using 2 two measurements-the systolic pressure – which is the blood pressure when the heart beats and forces blood around the body, and the diastolic pressure – which is the blood pressure when the heart is resting between beats.

The systolic is the top reading and diastolic at the bottom. If your doctor says you have a BP of 110/60, he means a systolic pressure of 110 and a diastolic of 60. Normal blood pressure should be lower than 130/80.

What health problems are associated with high blood pressure?

When high blood pressure occurs, the heart has to work harder to pump blood around the body which, over time, can weaken it. Hypertension is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and if left untreated, may lead to stroke, heart attack, aneurysm (swollen blood vessel) or kidney disease.

How do I know if I have high blood pressure?

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High blood pressure may not cause any symptoms, which is why it is important to have it checked regularly as it may silently be damaging the blood vessels, heart and body organs. However, when high blood pressure occurs (>180/110), symptoms may include a headache that lasts for several days, nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, blurred, or double vision, nosebleeds, irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath.

What is the treatment for high blood pressure?

High blood pressure treatment usually involves making lifestyle changes such as eating low fat, high fibre diet including plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables as well as whole grains; exercising regularly for thirty minutes at least five times a week, reducing the amount of salt and alcohol consumption; and staying stress free.

Ideally, adults should have their blood pressure checked at least once every year and more frequently if you have any of the risk factors mentioned above. High blood pressure can be prevented and is easily treated.

……………..Culled from tw April 2013 Edition.

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