Hypertension is the term used to describe High Blood Pressure. Having hypertension can be the result of the arteries furring up, or the arteries becoming inflexible.

The blood vessels in the body should expand and contract as the body requires more or less oxygen. If the arteries are unable to do so, the pressure in the body itself is raised which in turn means the heart has to pump even harder to get the oxygen to all parts. If you have had a heart attack or have coronary heart disease you will now understand why it is so important to take that pressure off the heart and why it is you are taking blood pressure tablets.

This lack of movement and narrowing of the arteries is known as coronary artery disease or coronary heart disease. When this narrowing happens to the arteries in the legs it is known as the condition called Peripheral Vascular Disease. Those with this condition suffer from extremely painful legs when walking, due to the lack of oxygen to the working leg muscles. The great news is that this condition can be improved by walking very slowly for extended periods of time. This will allow the body to grow new blood vessels around the blockages.

Untreated high blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease, heart failure, stroke and damage to the retina and kidneys. Up to 90% of people who are diagnosed with high blood pressure have what is called “essential” or “primary” hypertension this means that it is of unknown cause. This is why it is so important to get your blood pressure checked at least once a year. For those who have high blood pressure there are often no symptoms or side effects from this condition, which is another important reason to be regularly checked.

Blood pressure increases with age and varies greatly not just between individuals, but also for the same person from minute to minute, hour to hour and day to day. Coffee and tea will make it rise as well as stress. If it is found to be raised your doctor will monitor it, because of the reasons above, so as to get a better picture of what is going on.

So what positive steps can you take to reduce it? The answer comes in two parts Lifestyle and Behaviour. Studies have shown that by:-
. losing weight
. stop smoking
. reducing salt intake
. restricting alcohol
. take regular aerobic exercise (see note below)
. reducing stress or managing it more effectively.

Warning. For those with very high blood pressures of 180/100 or above, you should NOT be exercising unless under medical supervision.

If you already have a heart disease or have had a heart attack it is therefore vital that your blood pressure is regularly monitored and checked even if you are on medication.

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