Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is often called the silent killer.

Many people ignore the fact that they have high blood pressure because it generally has no other apparent symptoms. The reason it is important to know whether or not you have hypertension is because it is a prevalent risk factor for many diseases such as: heart attack, stroke, angina, and kidney failure.

images-3Blood pressure is composed of a systolic pressure and a diastolic pressure, which are measured in millimeters of mercury, or mmHg. The systolic pressure represents the pressure of the blood when the heart contracts and sends it into the arteries. The diastolic pressure represents the continuous pressure on the arteries between each contraction. A normal blood pressure level is 120/80 mmHg, with 120 indicating the systolic pressure and 80 the diastolic pressure.  Before being diagnosed as having hypertension, a doctor must take the blood pressure a few different times over the course of a few visits. This is because the blood pressure can vary throughout the day depending on activities and stress level. Once a person has shown to have consistent blood pressure levels of 140/90 and higher, they are considered to have hypertension.

Anyone over the age of 55 should definitely have their blood pimages-1ressure checked at least once a year, as the risk for hypertension increases with age.

In fact, most pharmacies have a machine where you can check your blood pressure for free. Anyone with family histories of hypertension has an increased risk, as there is a genetic component to high blood pressure. Anyone with certain diseases such as: diabetes, sleep apnea, or kidney disease should also be vigilant about their blood pressure. Other risk factors include general obesity, eating foods high in salt and fat content, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, smoking, being physically inactive, and stress.

Actually, by looking at these risk factors, except for age and genes, the answers to preventing hypertension become quite clear.

As usual, the key is to eat right, be physically active, watch your stress levels, stop smoking, and drink moderately.

In fact, by improving in these areas someone who has low-level hypertension can expect to lower their blood pressure levels to normal without taking medication. For someone with mid- or high-level blood pressure, they can expect to eventually be able to reduce their medication. The diet to follow is called the DASH diet, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. It is actually much like the Mediterranean diet. In this diet, the importance is put on eating fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, fish, chicken, and dairy products low in fat. Red meats, sugar, fats, and salt are all reduced. Following this diet closely has shown to be able to lower a person’s systolic pressure 8 to 14 mmHg, and their diastolic pressure 2 to 5.5 mmHg.

Along with these sensible changes to your well-being, acupuncture can be a great way to put everything together. Besides helping to lower your blood pressure, it can help with stress levels, quitting smoking, as well as, improve the functions of your heart, kidneys, and digestive system.

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