For many people, 120 and 80 are just simple numbers. On the other hand, for the 1 billion people worldwide dealing with hypertension, those numbers represent the goal of ideal health.

Doctors become concerned when an individual’s blood pressure rises above 120/80. At that point, the increased pressure in the arteries can start to cause serious damage all over the body.

But can high blood pressure and the damage is can cause be stopped? The answer may be a little bit more complicated than a arthritis and heart disease adsimple yes or no. Hypertension is influenced by several criteria. Some of these factors can be controlled by lifestyle management, but others are out of reach.

What You Can’t Control

1. Age

The risk for high blood pressure naturally goes up as we age. Men over the age of 45 and women over the age of 55 are most likely to be diagnosed with hypertension.  And because cardiovascular diseasae is the leading cause of death amoung women, developing hypertension during menopause should be considered an early warning sign that you should speak with your doctor.

2. Race

High blood pressure is more prevalent among African-Americans. In fact, nearly 40 percent of this population group has the disease. Researchers have also noted that African-Americans develop high blood pressure much sooner in life than other racial groups.

3. Genetics

To date, scientists have identified 29 genetic variations that play a role in blood pressure regulation. Having just one or two family members with a history of hypertension means that you’re two-times more likely to have the condition.

While treating male-pattern balding will not help your high blood pressure, we discussed previously how blading may be a potential new genetic warning sign that you’re at a high heart-disease risk.

What You Can Control

1. Diet

Food intake plays a very important role in hypertension. You’ve most likely heard about the dangers of high sodium, but there are other nutrients that can actually help.

Potassium  has shown to lessen the effects of excessive salt intake. The mineral balances out the fluids in the body and dilutes that extra sodium. Plus, it can help relax stiffened arteries.

Many researchers have been studying the effects of Vitamin D recently. There is some evidence to show that vitamin D deficiencies may lead to high blood pressure, but more research is needed to confirm the link.

2. Tobacco Use

The chemicals released from smoking cigarettes or chewing tobacco damage the lining of the arteries. They can also contribute to the hardening of the blood vessels.

3. Weight

The more you weigh, the more body tissue you have demanding blood from the heart. This leads to an increase in blood volume and that puts serious pressure on your arteries. Obesity can also lead to other conditions that put an increased strain on the heart and arteries: diabetes, high cholesterol, and others.

Losing weight can have a significant impact on blood pressure. In one study, participants who reported a 10 percent weight loss also had a 4.3/3.8 (systolic/diastolic) decrease in blood pressure.

Please visit our Hypertension Home Page for more information on how to control your blood pressure.

What factors have influenced your battle with hypertension?

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