Major Risk Factors: High Blood Pressure
The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute lists High Blood Pressure as one of the major risk factors for heart disease.
What Is Blood Pressure? Blood pressure is the amount of force exerted by the blood against the walls of the arteries. Usually, blood pressure is expressed as two numbers, such as120/80. The first number is the systolic blood pressure, the amount of force used when the heart beats. The second number, or diastolic blood pressure, is the pressure that exists in the arteries between heartbeats.
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is another major risk factor for heart disease. New research shows that at least 65 million adults in the United States have high blood pressure—a 30-percent increase over the last several years. Major contributors to high blood pressure are:
family history of the disease
eating a diet high in salt and sodium
According to a national survey, two-thirds of people with high blood pressure do not have it under control. The good news is that you can take action to control or prevent high blood pressure, and thereby avoid many life-threatening disorders.
If your blood pressure remains high even after you make lifestyle changes, your doctor will probably prescribe medicine. Lifestyle changes will help the medicine work more effectively. Taking medicine to lower blood pressure can reduce your risk of stroke, heart attack, congestive heart failure, and kidney disease. Remember, it is important to take blood pressure medication exactly as your doctor has prescribed it.