Blood Pressure

Blood pressure has gotten a bad rap. Some pressure is essential for circulation. Without it, blood couldn't move from the heart to the brain and the toes and back again. The heart provides the driving force — each contraction of the left ventricle, the heart's main pumping chamber, creates a wave of pressure that passes through all the arteries in the body. Relaxed and flexible arteries offer a healthy amount of resistance to each pulse of blood.

But too much of a good thing is a bad thing. Arteries that are tensed, constricted, or rigid offer more resistance. This shows up as higher blood pressure, and it makes the heart work harder. This extra work can weaken the heart muscle over time. It can damage other organs, like the kidneys and the eyes. And the relentless pounding of blood against the walls of arteries causes them to become hard and narrow, potentially setting the stage for a heart attack or stroke.

Most people with high blood pressure (known medically as hypertension) don't know they have it. Hypertension has no symptoms or warning signs. Yet it can be so dangerous to your health and well-being that it has earned the nickname "the silent killer." When high blood pressure is accompanied by high cholesterol and blood sugar levels, the damage to the arteries, kidneys, and heart accelerates exponentially.

High blood pressure is preventable. Daily exercise, following a healthy diet, limiting your intake of alcohol and salt, reducing stress, and not smoking are keys to keeping blood pressure under control. When it creeps into the unhealthy range, lifestyle changes and medications can bring it down.

Blood Pressure Articles

3 supplements that may harm your heart

Some supplements pose risks to heart health. For example, red yeast rice supplements can amplify the effects of cholesterol-lowering medications. And garlic supplements can increase the levels and effects of some medications for heart health, such as blood thinners (causing bleeding), cholesterol-lowering drugs (causing muscle damage), and blood pressure drugs (causing dangerous drops in blood pressure). It’s important to talk to a doctor before trying any new supplement, and to ask if a supplement will interfere with a medication regimen. More »

An unexpected benefit of better blood pressure control?

Contrary to widespread belief, aggressive blood pressure treatment does not seem to increase the likelihood of orthostatic hypotension. Defined as large drop in blood pressure when standing up, orthostatic hypotension can lead to dizziness and lightheadedness as well as fainting and falls. People with well-controlled blood pressure may actually be less likely to have orthostatic hypotension because a lower blood pressure keeps the entire cardiovascular system functioning well. (Locked) More »

Get FITT to better fight heart disease

People who have been diagnosed with heart disease or are at high risk should adopt a regular aerobic exercise routine to help fight many of the disease’s risk factors, like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and excess weight. A formula known as FITT—for frequency, intensity, time, and type—offers a guide to putting together a routine that will keep a person motivated and provide the best heart-pumping workout possible. (Locked) More »

Blood pressure medications may affect your mood

Contrary to what doctors have long assumed, blood pressure drugs may not raise the risk of depression. Some have even been linked to a lower risk of depression, including enalapril (Vasotec), ramipril (Altace), verapamil (Verelan), verapamil combination drugs, propranolol (Inderal), atenolol (Tenormin), bisoprolol (Zebeta), and carvedilol (Coreg). But because people have very diverse reactions to medications, large-scale trends of side effects don’t necessarily apply to an individual’s experience. People who notice mood changes or other side effects after starting a new medication should tell their physicians. More »

BPA now linked to premature death

High levels of bisphenol A (BPA) exposure are linked to an increased risk for premature death from any cause, according to a study published online Aug. 17, 2020, by JAMA Network Open. More »

Cooking from — and for — the heart this holiday season

Preparing lighter or alternative versions of foods and drinks traditionally served during the December holidays may help curb year-end weight gain. Examples include baked latkes made with added vegetables (such as zucchini, cauliflower, or beets) and nonalcoholic cocktails make with sparkling water, a splash or fruit juice, and fresh fruit. (Locked) More »

Medication and your skin

Medication side effects sometimes involve the skin. There are a number of medications that can cause pigment changes, including turning the skin blue. In addition, some medications may make the skin more prone to sunburns or skin cancer. A person who notices skin changes after starting a new medication should bring it to the attention of a doctor. More »

Take a soak for your health

Taking baths may bring numerous health benefits, among them helping ease chronic pain, improving skin health, and protecting the heart. When baths are used for health reasons, they are sometimes referred to as balneotherapy. While baths may help with certain health conditions, people should use care when in the tub to avoid slipping and also know that the hot water may lower blood pressure, which can lead to feeling dizzy or lightheaded. (Locked) More »