BACKGROUND: About 1 in 3 adults in the United States has high blood pressure (HBP). The condition itself usually has no signs or symptoms. You can have it for years without knowing it. During this time, though, HBP can damage your heart, blood vessels, kidneys, and other parts of your body. HBP is a serious condition that can lead to coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke, kidney failure, and other health problems. (SOURCE: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health)
SYMPTOMS: High blood pressure is a symptomless disease, so it is often referred to as the “silent killer.” Although a few people with early-stage high blood pressure may have dull headaches, dizzy spells or a few more nosebleeds than normal, these signs and symptoms typically don't occur until high blood pressure has reached a severe -- even life-threatening -- stage. (SOURCE: http://www.heart.org; www.mayoclinic.com)
KNOW YOUR NUMBERS: Blood pressure is measured as systolic and diastolic pressures. "Systolic" refers to blood pressure when the heart beats while pumping blood. "Diastolic" refers to blood pressure when the heart is at rest between beats. Knowing your blood pressure numbers is important, even when you're feeling fine.
RISKS FACTORS: High blood pressure has many risk factors, including:
Although high blood pressure is most common in adults, children may be at risk, too. For some children, high blood pressure is caused by problems with the kidneys or heart. But for a growing number of kids, poor lifestyle habits -- such as an unhealthy diet and lack of exercise -- contribute to high blood pressure.
TREATMENT: HBP is treated with lifestyle changes and medicines. The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (the DASH diet) is a lifelong approach to healthy eating that's designed to help treat or prevent high blood pressure (hypertension). The DASH diet encourages patients to reduce the sodium in their diet and eat a variety of foods rich in nutrients that help lower blood pressure, such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium. For a Dash Diet sample menu log onto http://dashdiet.org/sample_menu.asp