From Our Archives
One in four American adults has high blood pressure (HBP, also called hypertension). Left untreated, HBP puts you at greater risk for stroke, heart disease, kidney failure and eye problems. What's your HBP I.Q.? Take the test:
- HBP means that blood is having a hard time reaching the heart. True or False
- You have HBP if you have these symptoms: blurry vision, chest pains or headache. True or False
- Cutting back on salty snacks and foods is all you need to do to lower HBP. True or False
- The only way to know if you have HBP is to have your blood pressure checked. True or False
- False. HBP makes the heart work harder to pump blood to the body, which can damage the blood vessels and organs if not treated. It also contributes to hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis).
- False. HBP does not cause symptoms unless it is severely high. In fact, nearly one-third of people who have HBP don't know it.
- False. While reducing sodium can help, other lifestyle changes are usually necessary, such as losing weight, stopping smoking, eating healthful foods and getting enough exercise.
- True. Be sure to get your blood pressure checked regularly, especially if you have a close relative who has HBP.
Questions to Ask Your Doctor
- What is my current blood pressure reading?
- What possible risk factors (lifestyle, family history) may increase my risk?
- What lifestyle changes should I make?
- Would I benefit from taking an HBP drug?
Did You Know?
- HBP is a serious condition that can damage the blood vessels, leading to hardening of the arteries, or atherosclerosis.
- The vast majority (95%) of people who have HBP have essential hypertension- high blood pressure that does not have an apparent cause.
- Many drugs, including over-the-counter cough and cold remedies, asthma medications and appetite suppressants, can cause HBP.
Know Your Numbers
- normal: Less than 120/80
- prehypertension: 120-139/80-89
- stage 1 hypertension: 140-159/90-99
- stage 2 hypertension: 160+/100+
For more, please read the High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) article.
WebMD the Magazine - September/October 2005
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