Tags: Health Topics | High Blood Pressure | health myths and facts

Myths and Facts About High Blood Pressure

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By    |   Tuesday, 18 February 2020 10:04 AM

The statistics are staggering. About one in three Americans — that's 70 million — has high blood pressure. Unfortunately, and dangerously, one in five Americans who have high blood pressure doesn't know he or she has it. That's because hypertension, also called "The Silent Killer," usually has no symptoms. It only surfaces when a catastrophic event occurs. About seven out of 10 people who have their first heart attack have hypertension, and a full eight out of 10 first stroke victims have elevated blood pressure, too. By then, it may be too late to deal with the condition.

"Untreated high blood pressure can also cause damage to your organs — not just blood vessels," Dr. Kevin Campbell, M.D.  a North Carolina-based cardiologist, tells Newsmax. "Over time, HBP can damage your kidneys and cause kidney failure. In addition, long standing high blood pressure can damage the heart muscle, causing it to become thickened and also weakening it, a condition called cardiomyopathy. Uncontrolled HBP can also result in congestive heart failure."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 360,000 American deaths annually include high blood pressure as a primary or contributing factor — that's almost 1,000 deaths each day.

"You need to know your numbers and stay on top of the condition," notes Campbell.

Here are some myths and truths about high blood pressure that can save your life.

  1. Blood pressure rises with age. True. When our BP is high at a younger age it's called essential hypertension, says Campbell. But while some genetically blessed people never experience elevated blood pressure readings, the incidence increases with age in the general population. The current guidelines for defining hypertension is having a reading of 120/80 or higher. About 7% of those aged 18-39 meet these criteria, compared to 32% of people aged 40-59, 32% aged 40-59, and 65% for those 60-plus. However, keeping an ideal weight and living a healthy lifestyle can offset these statistics, says Campbell.
  2. Even dangerously high blood pressure has no symptoms. "That's a myth," says Campbell. While for many people, blood pressure readings can go through the roof without causing any symptoms, "hypertensive emergency BP rises quickly to unsafe levels, which can cause headaches, visual changes, nausea, and a feeling of passing out. This can result in an acute stroke," notes the expert. The best way to monitor your blood pressure is to take accurate readings throughout the day and record them for your healthcare professional. Readings vary, rising in the morning and falling at night, so it's best to have your own home monitor.
  3. The top number is the one to watch. True. The top reading is the systolic pressure, which measures the force the heart pumps blood through the body. The bottom number, the diastolic, measures the pressure as the blood flows back to the heart. The systolic number is the peak force your arteries and organs experience with each heart beat, so it can be the most damaging when elevated.
  4. Watch your salt intake to control blood pressure. True. Not everyone is salt sensitive, but excess salt can increase BP as we age, says Campbell. "I recommend some salt in moderation, but I also caution my patients to read food labels carefully to identify hidden sodium in foods." Federal guidelines recommend consuming less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium a day — less than half the 3,400 milligrams Americans typically consume.
  5. Once you are on blood pressure medication, you can never stop. Not so, says Campbell. "Actually in many cases, I have seen patients change their diet and lifestyle, lose weight, and are able to come off some if not all medication." Research shows that dropping 11 pounds can shave off more than 4 points from your systolic blood pressure. Cutting back on salt and eating more fruits and vegetables can lower blood pressure by five points. Swedish researchers showed that physical activity can reduce systolic pressure by an average of 11 points. Simply slowing down your breath has been shown to lower systolic blood pressure by three points. An FDA-approved portable computerized device called RESPeRATE uses tones to guide you through sessions of deep breathing.

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The statistics are staggering. About one in three Americans - that's 70 million - has high blood pressure. Unfortunately, and dangerously, one in five Americans who have high blood pressure doesn't know he or she has it.
health myths and facts
Tuesday, 18 February 2020 10:04 AM
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