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

Key minerals to help control blood pressure

Calcium, magnesium, and potassium are important for good blood pressure management. Potassium helps control the body’s levels of sodium, a well-known factor for hypertension. Magnesium and calcium help the blood vessels relax, and calcium also helps the blood vessels tighten. People who eat a healthy diet probably consume enough of these nutrients. People eating a diet of processed and canned foods might need to be concerned, as well as people taking certain medications. More »

Measuring blood pressure at home: Keep it simple

Single measurements of blood pressure in the doctor’s office can be misleading. They may look higher or lower than they are in the person’s daily life. At-home measurements can produce a more accurate picture of a person’s blood pressure over time.  The information improves control of high blood pressure and helps to show the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. Two measurements in the morning and evening for several days are usually sufficient to provide an accurate snapshot of the person’s average daily blood pressure. (Locked) More »

Blood pressure therapy fails test

A promising experimental surgery to combat high blood pressured failed an important test. The treatment, called renal denervation, is for people with high blood pressure that does not respond adequately to medication. (Locked) More »

Measure blood pressure in both arms

Measuring blood pressure in both arms may reveal important information about a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease. Small differences between the right and left arm are normal. But large ones—more than 10 points—may suggest the presence of artery-clogging plaque in the vessel that supplies blood to the arm with lower blood pressure. Such plaque is a signal of peripheral artery disease, which suggests that arteries in the heart and brain are also clogged, boosting the odds of having a heart attack or stroke. (Locked) More »

The essentials to keep a man's heart healthy

Many things contribute to a man’s risk of cardiovascular disease (heart attacks and strokes). The key factors to address are body weight, diet, exercise, stress control, cholesterol, and blood pressure.  These account for most of a man’s cardiac risk. For those who meet certain criteria, a cholesterol-lowering statin drug or a daily low-dose aspirin can also reduce risk, particularly in a man who has already experienced a heart attack or stroke. (Locked) More »

When high blood pressure affects the arteries to the lungs

Pulmonary hypertension is a broad category of diseases characterized by shortness of breath, fatigue, and fluid buildup in the right side of the heart. A severe form of the condition known as pulmonary artery hypertension (PAH) can lead to early death. However, several new medications offer expanded treatment options and new hope for people with PAH. (Locked) More »

Blood pressure goals: How low should you go?

The higher a person’s blood pressure, the greater the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and death from heart-related illness. Doctor’s usually recommend blood pressure medication when a person’s pressure surpasses 140/90. The higher the pressure to start, the greater the health benefit of lowering it below 140/90. But taking multiple medications, poor health, and older age can make aggressive drug therapy for high blood pressure riskier. But a healthy man with high blood pressure may be able to tolerate more medication and thus benefit more from the treatment. More »