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Hypertension Illustration

Hypertension (high blood pressure) is a condition defined by having a blood pressure consistently above 140/90. An estimated 1 out of every 3 U.S. adults have high blood pressure, and only about half of these adults have their blood pressure under control. Hypertension increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, but it can often be controlled or prevented through medication and lifestyle changes.

High blood pressure symptoms usually don't appear at all, earning the condition the nickname “the silent killer.” When someone suffers from a dangerous form of very high blood pressure known as malignant hypertension, symptoms include severe headache, nausea or vomiting, confusion, vision changes, and nosebleeds.

In most cases of high blood pressure, an underlying cause cannot be found. Certain people are more at risk for high blood pressure than others. People with higher risk of high blood pressure include African Americans, smokers, diabetics, people with a family history of high blood pressure, and those who drink too much alcohol or eat too much salt. Anxiety and excess weight may predispose one to high blood pressure as well.

Hypertension treatment usually begins with lifestyle changes. These changes include eating a high-potassium, high-fiber diet, drinking plenty of water, exercising for at least 30 minutes a day, stopping smoking, limiting alcohol, reducing salt, reducing stress, and maintaining a healthy body weight. When medication is needed to control high blood pressure, there are many different options. Sometimes more than one blood pressure medication will be used.

Image Source: MedicineNet, Inc.

Text Reference: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “High Blood Pressure”