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

7 things you can do to prevent a stroke

Aging and a family history can increase your risk for a stroke, but women can reduce this risk by managing factors that are under their control. Lowering high blood pressure, keeping weight in check, exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, losing weight, managing atrial fibrillation and diabetes, and quitting smoking can dramatically decrease the risk of a stroke. More »

How to cope with drug-resistant hypertension

When three or more medications are unable to keep blood pressure under control, the condition is known as resistant hypertension. It’s usually caused by nonadherence to medication regimens, too much salt in the diet, and side effects from other conditions, such as a lack of sleep or kidney problems. Treatment focuses on discovering and addressing the causes. Recent research suggests that renal denervation is both safe and effective at helping to manage resistant hypertension. It’s a catheter procedure that uses radiofrequency to destroy overactive nerves in the renal (kidney) arteries. Exercise and improved diet can also help lower hypertension. (Locked) More »

Get your heart pumping in the fight against forgetfulness

Regular moderately intense exercise up to 150 minutes per week releases brain chemicals that support better memory, concentration, and mental sharpness. Exercise also maintains healthy blood pressure and weight, helps you feel more energetic, lifts your mood, lowers stress and anxiety, and keeps your heart healthy. To get the most brain benefit, exercise regularly to get your heart rate up to 70% of maximum. To succeed at exercise, do it with a partner, outdoors, and in a way that is fun for you. More »

RX for heart failure: coffee

Drinking two cups of coffee a day may protect against heart failure, likely by lowering the risk of high blood pressure and diabetes. (Locked) More »

Prevent peripheral artery disease

Peripheral artery disease has four main risk factors: smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. The more risk factors one accumulates, the higher the risk, and the severity of risk factors increases risk. Developing all four of the risk factors can increase PAD risk to 75%. Avoiding all four risk factors can eliminate many cases of PAD before they start. Treating PAD involves quitting smoking; controlling diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure; and sometimes surgery to improve blood flow. (Locked) More »