High Blood Pressure

Prevention

High blood pressure can be prevented by leading a healthy lifestyle. This includes maintaining a healthy diet, especially fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy foods. Higher potassium intake and lowering salt intake are significant diet changes that prevent and control high blood pressure. Limiting alcohol use and quitting smoking are two other beneficial life changes.
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People who are overweight should try to lose weight, as losing even 5 pounds has been shown to lower blood pressure. Physical exercise has also been shown to lower blood pressure.

Stress contributes to high blood pressure. Reducing stress by practicing relaxation techniques, deep breathing, meditation, plenty of rest, and other coping techniques is beneficial.

Treatment

Lifestyle changes will help lower blood pressure but may not be effective enough to lower the blood pressure to the desired level. Depending on how high the blood pressure level is and other medical conditions, medication may be considered necessary for treatment. Medications prescribed to treat high blood pressure include diuretics, or water pills, to eliminate sodium and water, which will lower the blood pressure. Beta blockers may be prescribed, which cause the blood vessels to expand relieving the heart of having to work so hard. Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors help relax blood vessels by blocking a natural chemical that causes the arteries to narrow. Calcium channel blockers also help relax blood vessels. Renin inhibitors may be prescribed to stop renin production which is an enzyme that raises blood pressure. Physicians may prescribe one or a combination of the medications to lower blood pressure. In cases where the above medications do not attain the desired results, other medications may be prescribed that directly affect nerve impulses or heart rates that are linked to elevated blood pressure levels.

Recent Debates and Developments

Recent studies have indicated salt intake as being the major factor involved with higher blood pressure. Salt intake is linked more closely to high blood pressure than weight, lack of exercise, or eating an unhealthy diet.

An ongoing debate has been the role of calcium intake as a factor in controlling or preventing high blood pressure. Recent studies indicate that calcium intake is a key factor in blood pressure regulation and that for healthy blood pressure management individuals should ascertain that they are consuming the amount of calcium recommended by established nutritional guidelines. Individuals who oppose the findings state that the calcium factor is not linked significantly enough to high blood pressure to recommend calcium supplements for treatment.

More Information

Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/high-blood-pressure/DS00100

Centers for Disease Control: http://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wik/Hypertension

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