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Many Ways to Reduce Risk of High Blood Pressure

High Blood Preasure Hypertension (greater than 140/90 mm Hg) is a condition of continuing abnormally high pressure in the arteries. This high pressure can be the result of constricted, obstructed or "hardened" arteries; the heart pumping too fast or with too much force; or a high volume of blood in the system.

For most people (90 percent), the cause of high blood pressure is unknown. This type of high blood pressure is called primary or essential hypertension.

When the "cause" of a disease is not fully understood, it is likely that a definitive cure or effective preventive measures will not be known either.

However, while not enough is known about hypertension to prevent or cure it completely, we do know enough to identify and control it.

Fortunately, high blood pressure is easy to detect and identify - just by having one's blood pressure checked regularly.

We know that changing the lifestyle behaviors for the better can help control hypertension in some people. And sometimes we can guess why. For example, high salt intake can cause retention of water, which may expand blood volume, which may increase blood pressure.

Obesity, sedentary lifestyle, stress, excessive alcohol and salt, etc. can contribute to or increase the risk of hypertension development in some people, but again the reasons are not known. Other risk factors include age, sex, race and smoking history.

Everyone - regardless of race, age, sex or heredity - can help lower the chance of developing high blood pressure by:

--Maintaining healthy weight.
--Becoming more physically active on a regular basis.
--Choosing foods lower in salt and sodium.
--Decreasing anxiety and stress.

Recent medical research has shown that other activities might reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure. These include:

--Eating foods rich in potassium such as fruits, vegetables, dairy foods and fish.
--Getting at least the recommend amount of calcium (about 1,000 milligrams).
--Having a balanced diet with whole grains, green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds and dried beans to get enough magnesium.
--Eating fatty fish like mackerel and salmon. (Fish oil pills can cause unpleasant side effects and both are high in fat and calories.)

High blood pressure drugs work in various ways. They can affect how hard the heart pumps, how much the blood vessels widen and narrow, or how much fluid is in the body.

The types of medications prescribed for high blood pressure include:

--Diuretics: They work on the kidney and flush excess water and sodium from the body through urine. Fluid loss lowers blood pressure initially and keeps it lowered through unknown mechanisms.
--Beta blockers: They reduce nerve impulses to the heart and blood vessels, which makes the heart beat less often and with less force.
--Angiotensin antagonists: These medications are a newer type of high blood pressure drugs They shield blood vessels from a hormone called angiotensin II, which normally causes vessels to narrow. As a result, the vessels are wider and pressure lowers.
--Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors: They prevent angiotensin II from being formed. They relax blood vessels and pressure goes down.
--Calcium channel blockers (CCBs): They keep calcium from entering the muscle cells of the heart and blood vessels, causing blood vessels to relax.
--Alpha blockers: They work on the nervous system to relax blood vessels, which allows blood to pass more easily.
--Alpha- beta blockers: They work The same way as alpha blockers but also slow the heartbeat, as beta- blockers do.

If you are taking hypertension medication, be sure to find out which type of medication has been recommend and why.

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