We live in an often high-pressure world and this can affect us in many ways. For example it can stress us out. Stress can cause hypertension through repeated blood pressure elevations as well as by stimulation of the nervous system to produce large amounts of vasoconstricting hormones that increase blood pressure.
Hypertension (high blood pressure) is a common condition in which the long-term force of the blood against your artery walls is high enough that it may eventually cause health problems, such as heart disease. Blood pressure is determined both by the amount of blood your heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries. The more blood your heart pumps and the narrower your arteries, the higher your blood pressure.
Hypertension is rarely accompanied by symptoms, and its identification is usually through screening, or when seeking healthcare for an unrelated problem. Lifestyle changes and medications can lower blood pressure and decrease the risk of health complications. Lifestyle changes include weight loss, decreased salt intake, physical exercise, and a healthy diet. If lifestyle changes are not sufficient then blood pressure medications can be used.
As with most conditions hypertension seems to worsen with age. You are more likely to be told your blood pressure is too high as you get older. This is because your blood vessels become stiffer as you age. When that happens, your blood pressure goes up. High blood pressure increases your chance of having a stroke, heart attack, heart failure, kidney disease, or early death.
If your blood pressure is not yet up to the level of hypertension the goal of treatment is to reduce your blood pressure so that you have a lower risk of complications. You and your provider should set a blood pressure goal for you. If you have pre-hypertension, your provider will recommend lifestyle changes to bring your blood pressure down to a normal range. Medicines are rarely used for pre-hypertension.
A healthy diet provides benefits in different ways. For example, it can lower cholesterol, help control your weight, and has plenty of vitamins, fiber, and other nutrients which help to prevent certain diseases. Some aspects of a healthy diet also directly affect blood pressure. For example, if you have a poor diet and change to a diet which is low-fat, low-salt, and high in fruit and vegetables, it can lower systolic blood pressure.