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Hypertension – Cause and Treatment

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Hypertension or high blood pressure does not cause people to have a short temper as some people may think. Actually, hypertension does not have any symptoms. Studies indicate that about one in three American adults have hypertension, but because there are no symptoms, about one in three of these people are unaware of it. If it is left untreated, it can lead to heart disease, kidney damage or stroke. These reasons are why hypertension has been labeled as the silent killer. The only way to tell if you have hypertension is to have your blood pressure checked regularly. Although intensive and costly research has been conducted on hypertension, determining the precise cause of hypertension has been elusive.

Doctors have been unable to determine the specific cause of hypertension in about 90 to 95 percent of all cases. This type of hypertension is labeled as primary or essential hypertension. Although the precise cause of primary hypertension has yet to be identified, researchers have been able to find common attributes in people with primary hypertension.

Studies indicate that primary hypertension only occurs to people with a daily intake of salt that exceeds 5.8 grams. Heredity and race were proven to be factors in 30 percent of the cases that were studied. People with a family history of hypertension were twice as likely to get it. And the number of cases of hypertension was greatest among African Americans. Also most of these test subjects exhibited increased stiffness or resistance of their peripheral arteries. This stiffness has been linked to genetic factors, obesity and lack of exercise, excessive salt intake and old age.

About 5 to 10 percent of the cases of hypertension can be attributed to some specific cause and is called secondary hypertension. Chronic kidney diseases, oral contraceptive pills, adrenal gland tumors, chronic alcohol abuse and coarctation of the aorta are known causes of secondary hypertension. Coarctation of the aorta is the most common cause of secondary hypertension in children.

Doctors have not been able to find a cure for primary hypertension, but they have been able to determine treatments that might lower blood pressure to levels that will prevent the complications of hypertension. Secondary hypertension can be managed by treating the underlying cause. If you are a person with mild or moderate hypertension who does not have any damage to the heart or kidneys, you could consider a change in your lifestyle. These changes include maintaining a healthy body weight, lowering the amount of salt you consume, giving up smoking and reducing your consumption of alcohol. Some doctors recommend aerobic exercise for 20 minutes at least 3 to 4 times every week. An eating plan that has been proven to reduce blood pressure is the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) eating plan. This eating plan is from the DASH clinical study, which was paid for by the National Institutes of Health. This diet consists of fruits, vegetables and low fat dairy foods. This diet is low in cholesterol and fat; and high in calcium, potassium, magnesium and protein. Something else you might consider is a relaxation technique such as meditation, yoga, biofeedback and hypnosis.

People with moderate or severe hypertension will probably have to use one of the numerous drugs that have been developed to treat hypertension. These drugs include beta-blockers, diuretics, calcium-channel blockers and angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors. People with heart failure, diabetes, or asthma should use beta-blockers with caution. If you have heart failure, kidney disease, or diabetes, then you should use ACE inhibitors. Situations involving more severe hypertension may require a combination of two or more of these drugs. These drugs mustbe taken on a daily basis since they only control and do not cure hypertension.

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