High BP Explained - by Wayne

High Blood Pressure Explained
By: Wayne Matthew Dayata
In order to survive and function properly, oxygenated blood, along with the nutrients,
should be efficiently supplied to the organs and tissues throughout the body. When the heart
beats, the pressure created pushes blood through a network of vessels from arteries to capillaries
and veins. This blood pressure is the result of two forces: The systolic pressure occurs as blood
pumps out of the heart and into the arteries that are part of the circulatory system; while the
diastolic pressure is created as the heart rests between heart beats. Both forces are represented
by units of millimeters of hydrogen (mmHg) in a blood pressure reading.
High blood pressure (HBP or Hypertension) occurs when a person’s blood pressure, the
force of his blood pushing the walls of his blood vessels, is consistently too high. The primary way
that high blood pressure damages the circulatory system and affects the nutrient transport is by
increasing the workload of the heart and blood vessels, making them work harder and less
First, the increase in blood pressure reduces the elasticity of the artery walls, forcing the
left ventricle to work harder to supply enough blood to the body. Second, higher blood pressure
yields higher fiction against the inside of the artery wall, stiffening the internal elastic membrane
and eventually damaging the tunica intima (the innermost lining of the artery). Third, with that
damage, LDL (bad) cholesterol forms plaque in the artery wall, initiating atherosclerosis,
narrowing the area of the artery for blood to pass through. All these damages gradually intensify
until plaque and blood clot block the flow of blood out of the heart’s thickening ventricle walls,
resulting in heart attack or heart failure.
Some common things that contribute to an increase in blood pressure include taking in
more than 2,000 milligrams of salt per day, consuming large amounts of alcohol and
decongestants, gaining weight, moving back and forth between cold water and hot tubs or
saunas, and sitting most of the day without any light activities done. On the other hand, having a
healthy diet, getting regular exercise and reducing body stress are ways of minimizing the risk of
having high blood pressure.
One may not feel the changes that are occurring in his body, but high blood pressure could
be quietly causing damage that can threaten his health. The best prevention is to regularly
monitor blood pressure levels and make changes that matter in order to prevent and manage
high blood pressure by avoiding the common causes stated above.
Some myths and misconceptions about high blood pressure:
Myth 1: High blood pressure runs in my family. There is nothing I can do to prevent it.
Fact: High blood pressure can run in families. If your parents or close blood relatives have had
high blood pressure, you are more likely to develop it, too. However, lifestyle choices have
allowed many people with a family history of high blood pressure to avoid it themselves.
Myth 2: I feel fine. I don’t have to worry about high blood pressure.
Fact: About 103 million U.S. adults have high blood pressure, and many of them don’t know it
or don’t experience typical symptoms. High blood pressure is also a major risk factor for stroke.
Which could lead to serious and severe health problems if left uncontrolled.
Myth 3: I use kosher or sea salt when I cook instead of regular table salt. They are low-sodium
Fact: Chemically, kosher salt and sea salt are the same as table salt — 40 percent sodium— and
count the same toward total sodium consumption. Table salt is a combination of the two
minerals sodium (Na) and chloride (Cl).
Myth 4: I read that wine is good for the heart, which means I can drink as much as I want.
Fact: As mentioned earlier, drinking too much alcohol can dramatically increase blood pressure
which could cause heart failure, leading to stroke and production of irregular heartbeats. If you
drink, limit consumption to no more than two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for
women. Generally, one drink equals a 12-ounce beer, a four-ounce glass of wine, or one ounce
of hard liquor (100 proof).
Myth 5: High blood pressure is just part of getting older.
Fact: While it is true that the risk of high blood pressure can increase with age, it is not a result
of the normal aging process, it is a serious health condition that requires ongoing monitoring
and treatment.
Myth 6: I started taking high blood pressure medication and now my blood pressure is normal,
so I don’t need the medication anymore.
Fact: This is a common mistake people make, they take medication long enough to get their
high blood pressure under control but don’t keep taking it so that it stays under control, for
high blood pressure is a chronic health condition that requires lifelong monitoring on a regular
basis and treatment to keep in check.
Myth 7: People who have an active lifestyle, low body weight, and a healthy diet don’t need to
worry about high blood pressure.
Fact: Some people have a strong genetic tendency toward high blood pressure and can still
have high blood pressure without being overweight, sedentary, or eating an unhealthy diet.
High blood pressure is not always caused by lifestyle factors.
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