High blood pressure, or hypertension, occurs when the pressure of the blood flowing in the blood vessels is above the normal range. It cannot be cured, but can be controlled with lifestyle changes and medicine prescribed by your doctor. The CDC estimates that 67 million Americans have high blood pressure, or 1 in 3 people in America, and most people with hypertension don’t know it.

Most cases of high blood pressure do not have a clear cause. Risk factors include obesity, smoking, genetics, old age, and over consumption of alcohol or sodium. High blood pressure frequently is asymptomatic, which is why it is so dangerous. Complications of hypertension may include heart disease, stroke, hardening of the arteries, kidney disease, eye disease, preeclampsia, and erectile dysfunction.

Although beta blockers, calcium blockers, and ACE inhibitors are commonly prescribed for patients with hypertension, non-medicinal treatments like stress management, low-sodium diet, exercise, and weight loss may also be effective. The best way to monitor your blood pressure is with regular check-ups, or regular monitoring with a sphygmomanometer, commonly referred to as a blood pressure cuff.

Follow-up care for those with high blood pressure is especially important. Along with checking pressure levels, your physician should screen for risk factors like high cholesterol and damage to peripheral arteries as well as the lungs, heart, and kidneys.

Additional Expert Sources:

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Mayo Clinic
WebMD

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