Beware of Hypertension — The Silent Killer

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Beware of hypertension, the silent killer. As Part 1 of the series pointed out, one in five North American adults have hypertension and this number increases in adults over the age of 65 to one out of every two. A number of factors can increase a person’s risk including family history, age, atherosclerosis, inactivity, obesity, and excessive alcohol intake. (1)

Uncontrollable Risk Factors

Two uncontrollable risk factors include:

  • Family History

    Hypertension, Silent Killer, High Blood Pressure, Uncontrollable Risk Factors, Age, Family History
    Hypertension – The Silent Killer – Uncontrollable Risk Factors: Family History, Age

A person with a family history of hypertension starts out in life with a risk factor that they cannot control. Especially significant is whether one or both parents either have or had hypertension. (2)

  • Age

As a person gets older, blood pressure typically elevates. (2)

Atherosclerosis and Medication

Atherosclerosis, a condition where arterial plaque builds up, is associated

Hypertension, Silent Killer, High Blood Pressure, Uncontrollable Risk Factors, Age, Family History, Atherosclerosis, preventable risk factors
Hypertension – The Silent Killer – Atherosclerosis

with age but could be preventable. Arteries are made to be flexible, however with the build up of plaque, this capability diminishes. Rigid blood vessels maintain a higher blood pressure. Ultimately the plaque decreases the kidneys’ blood supply reducing their capability to control the body’s blood volume, and thereby its blood pressure. (5)

There are hormone-like compounds and an enzyme that the kidneys secret that are designed to sustain a blood pressure that is healthy. The anti-hypertensive medications used to reduce high blood pressure often reduces these compounds’ effect. (5)

Lifestyle Factors
  • Excess Weight
Hypertension, Silent Killer, High Blood Pressure, Uncontrollable Risk Factors, Age, Family History, Atherosclerosis, preventable risk factors, obesity, excess weight, inactivity, alcohol.
Hypertension – The Silent Killer – Risk Higher with Excess Weight

Generally, people who are overweight have a risk for hypertension that is six times greater than lean people. The first lifestyle factor on the list leading to hypertension is obesity.

In order to support the excess tissue in individuals who are overweight or obese, the body creates additional blood vessels. These additional blood vessels increase the work performed by the heart and also increase the blood pressure. With obesity, adipose cells become insulin-resistant causing an elevation of blood insulin levels. The increased blood insulin level causes the body to retain more sodium and accelerates atherosclerosis. Without a doubt, obesity is linked to hypertension. Losing only 10 to 15 pounds often helps treat hypertension. (4)

  • Inactivity

    Hypertension, Silent Killer, High Blood Pressure, Uncontrollable Risk Factors, Age, Family History, Atherosclerosis, preventable risk factors, obesity, excess weight, inactivity, alcohol.
    Hypertension – The Silent Killer — Exercise Makes a Difference

Number two on the list of lifestyle factors is inactivity. If a person who is obese engages in physical activity on a regular basis (a minimum of 30 to 60 minutes five days a week) and loses weight, often the blood pressure will return to a normal level. (3) (4)

  • Alcohol Consumption

Approximately 10% of the cases related to hypertension are caused by an excess intake of alcohol. The good news is that this is generally reversible. Hypertensive men should have no more than two drinks per day while women no more than one. (4)

As the silent killer, hypertension cannot be ignored. Many of the factors increasing a person’s risk for stroke and hypertension are controllable with certain lifestyle changes. Weight loss, increased regular physical activity, and limited alcohol intake will make a significant difference. A diet rich in certain nutrients is essential. The next article will provide you with important information concerning essential minerals required to maintain a healthy blood pressure.

References
(1) https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/risk_factors.htm
(2) https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/family_history.htm
(3) https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/conditions.htm
(4) https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/behavior.htm
(5) https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/files/docs/guidelines/express.pdf

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