Hypertension; What, Why, and How to Prevent it

Published on August 2, 2012, by

One of the most common health problems experienced by people of all ages is hypertension, or high blood pressure.  Blood pressure is a measure of health which is frequently assessed by physicians and other professionals as one indicator of an individual’s overall health.  If blood pressure is too high or too low, it can be a symptom of other underlying medical conditions, and can cause other disorders.


Blood pressure is typically logged in the form of two numbers, which look like a fraction – one number on top and one number on the bottom, with a line between the two.  The top number is called the systolic blood pressure, and the bottom number is called the diastolic pressure.  Normal blood pressure is at or below 120/80, whereas high blood pressure or hypertension occurs when an individual’s blood pressure is consistently over 140/90.  A person who typically has values between these two – 120 to 140 systolic and 80 to 90 diastolic – are commonly diagnosed with pre-hypertension.  This means that they do not yet have hypertension, but they may develop it later.


When there is no medical reason found for an individual’s hypertension, it is called essential hypertension.  Secondary hypertension is the term used for high blood pressure which is directly related to other medical conditions, or medications an individual may be taking.  There are a variety of risk factors which can cause hypertension, or increase your risk of developing it.  Consuming high amounts of sodium or alcohol can significantly increase your risk for hypertension; obesity, diabetes, frequent stress or anxiety, and use of tobacco products are other factors which can also cause hypertension.  African Americans are the ethnic group most likely to develop hypertension, and individuals with a family history of hypertension are at an increased risk of developing it as well.  Other risk factors include pregnancy, some medications (such as birth control and migraine medications), renal artery stenosis, and hyperparathyroidism.


There are some health complications which are much more likely to occur in individuals with hypertension.  Heart and kidney problems can be exacerbated by high blood pressure, so individuals with these disorders typically will have their blood pressure closely monitored by their physician to ensure that their blood pressure doesn’t worsen their condition.  High blood pressure can also lead to strokes, and individuals who have already had a stroke should also be closely monitored for hypertension.


There are a variety of ways to treat high blood pressure.  If an individual’s blood pressure is too high, or if there are other health concerns which require that their blood pressure be carefully controlled, medication is one option which individuals can explore with their doctors.  However, before it gets to this point, there are other ways to prevent hypertension, or to bring slight hypertension back down to a normal level.  Maintaining a healthy weight is important for your blood pressure, and it’s also crucial to eat a healthy diet (with a low or moderate sodium intake) and drink plenty of fluids.  Try to reduce stress in your life, or find ways to better manage the way you handle it; meditation and yoga can help.  Avoid excessive consumption of alcohol, or using tobacco products, and exercise regularly.  All of these practices will not only reduce your risk of hypertension, but improve your overall health and quality of life in the process.


~Contributed by InspireHappy Staff Writer

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