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

Does alcohol help protect the brain?

An observational study published online June 29, 2020, by Jama Network Open found a potential link between low-to-moderate alcohol drinking in middle age and better cognitive skills in older age. More »

Does human growth hormone slow the aging process?

Contrary to its reputation as an anti-aging supplement, human growth hormone is not effective at turning back the clock, and it may carry health risks. Commitment to a healthy diet and regular exercise is still the best formula for healthy aging. (Locked) More »

Simple home medical gadgets to protect your health

The modernization of standard home medical devices has made monitoring health easier than ever. These gadgets include thermometers, scales, blood pressure monitors, and pulse oximeters. Gadget features that are especially helpful for older adults are easy operation and large, lighted readouts. It’s important that some home medical devices, such as blood pressure monitors and pulse oximeters, have a seal of approval from an accredited agency, such as the FDA for pulse oximeters or the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation for blood pressure monitors. (Locked) More »

Supplements for three common conditions

If someone is unable to tolerate medications for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or anxiety, supplements may be an option. Evidence shows that certain supplements may be effective for these conditions, if taken properly under the supervision of your doctor. But to ensure you are buying products that are both safe and effective, look for a quality seal on the label. More »

How serious is bundle branch block?

A bundle branch block refers to a small glitch in the heart’s electrical conduction system, which can occur on the right or left side of the heart. Possible symptoms include shortness of breath, lagging energy, and fainting. (Locked) More »

Updated advice for people with both diabetes and heart disease

Among people who have heart disease, those who also have diabetes may need more aggressive treatment than people who don’t have diabetes. This may include newer drugs that lower blood sugar levels and help people live longer. High blood sugar—the hallmark of diabetes—can injure the inner walls of arteries throughout the body, leaving them more prone to a buildup of fatty, artery-clogging plaque. Elevated blood sugar also stiffens the arteries so they don’t expand as well, and it makes blood platelets stickier and more likely to form blood clots. (Locked) More »