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

Having one chronic condition can boost the risk for others

Many chronic conditions seem to be related. Examples include obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and heart disease; hearing loss and dementia; obstructive sleep apnea and high blood pressure; various autoimmune diseases; and obesity and joint problems. People with chronic conditions should ask their doctors about the risk for associated diseases. In some cases, they should have certain health screenings to check for them. In other cases, additional screening isn’t automatic. (Locked) More »

Affairs of the heart

Heart disease and related conditions can affect physical health, psychological well-being, and the quality of the relationship—three key factors in a satisfying sex life. People can ask their physician about adjusting their current medications (including those used to treat high blood pressure and depression) as well as trying drugs used to treat erectile dysfunction and vaginal dryness. But having an open, honest discussion with one’s partner is also an important first step. (Locked) More »

Can you supercharge the Mediterranean diet?

A Mediterranean diet featuring plant-based proteins is associated with more weight loss and steeper declines in cholesterol, insulin resistance, and inflammation markers than a Mediterranean diet with more animal-based proteins. More »