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Heart Healthy For The Holidays-Hypertension

We think of high blood pressure as something that increases with stress. . .and the holiday season has lots of triggers! This condition is actually a silent public health enemy:  it affects one in four adults, generally with no symptoms, and is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and death. High blood pressure or hypertension is a condition where the pressure of your blood traveling through your arteries is higher than normal.  This force can damage the walls of the blood vessels and cause the heart to have to work harder.

Hypertension affects women and men equally, although men are more likely to be affected younger and women are more likely to be affected after menopause. Hypertension is the most common reason for medical visits and total prescription drug sales in the United States.  And while it's easy to get your blood pressure measured at most drug stores or malls in the country, too many Americans either don't know their blood pressure or don't know what the numbers mean.

"120 over 80" is a normal blood pressure for most adult Americans.  What's even more important, however, is to know what's "normal" for you.  The top number is called the systolic pressure; the bottom number is the diastolic pressure of 80  The scope of what we call "high blood pressure" can happen with an elevated top number alone, bottom number alone, or both.  The good news is that hypertension is simple to diagnose and can be effectively treated with lifestyle modifications and medicine. 

Created: 12/22/2003  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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