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April 17, 2014

High blood pressure often has no symptoms

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Gazette occasionally publishes health columns from doctors at Merrimack Valley Hospital. One such column appears here.

Unlike a sore throat or an arm fracture, high blood pressure often has no symptoms, so people are not even aware that they have it.

It is estimated that one in three American adults has high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, which left uncontrolled can lead to a number of unwanted results, such as kidney disease, heart attack, heart failure and stroke.

A blood pressure reading of 140 (systolic value) over 90 (diastolic value) or higher, is considered high. If you also have kidney disease and/or diabetes, your goal blood pressure should be even lower.

Just as regular inspections are important for your automobile, regular visits to your health care provider are most important for the detection and monitoring of high blood pressure, as well as education and effective treatment.

High blood pressure can be treated with a variety of methods that can be modified based on your individual health care needs. These methods include:

Regular blood pressure monitoring at the doctor’s office, and at home using automated blood pressure devices that are placed on the upper arm. When your blood pressure is being taken, make sure you have a comfortable place to sit that has back support, and that your feet are flat on the floor.

A consistent aerobic exercise program developed with your health-care provider that meets your personal health needs, and is easily incorporated into your lifestyle. This will benefit your overall health and assist in keeping you at your ideal weight. Overweight individuals commonly have high blood pressure, as well as additional health conditions such as obstructive sleep apnea, which can further increase blood pressure, and lead to loud snoring and daytime fatigue.

Diet changes such as limiting salt intake, especially if you have additional risk factors for heart disease, such as being diabetic or over age 65.

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