High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, occurs when the pressure of the blood flowing against the blood vessel walls is above the normal range. It is written in two sets of numbers, for example, 120/70. The first number is the systolic reading, which is the pressure when the heart is beating. The second number is the diastolic number, the pressure when the heart is resting. High blood pressure occurs when the systolic reading is elevated above 140 or higher and/or the diastolic reading is 90 or above.
The causes of high blood pressure are not exactly known. It cannot be cured but it can be controlled with changes to your life and medicine prescribed by your doctor. Almost 1 out of 4 Americans have high blood pressure and most of them don’t know that they have it. High blood pressure doesn’t have any signs, which is why it is so dangerous.
Risk Factors for High Blood Pressure People who are at risk for high blood pressure usually have one or more of the following factors:
- Close relatives with high blood pressure
- Over 35 years of age
- Excessive use of salt in food
- Alcohol consumption
- Women using oral contraceptives
- Physically inactive
- Pregnant women
Usually you cannot tell if you have high blood pressure. You can get blood pressure readings during your physical exam.
Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects over 20 million people in the US – nearly 7 percent of the population. Diabetes is a metabolic disorder in which the body does not produce or absorb enough insulin, a hormone that moves glucose into the bloodstream.
Most of the food that we eat is broken down into glucose, which is the main source of fuel in the body. If there is not enough insulin, or the insulin cannot be utilized properly, the glucose cannot fuel the body. This causes a buildup of glucose that then exits through the urine.
There are several different types of diabetes that affect the body in different ways.
- Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease that attacks the body’s insulin-producing cells.
- Type 2 Diabetes includes an ineffective use of natural insulin and is affected by age, weight and family history.
- Gestational Diabetes occurs in pregnant women and involves a shortage of insulin. This puts women at a higher risk for type 2 diabetes.
Obesity is a chronic condition defined by an excess amount of body fat. Fat is important for storing energy, insulating your body, and many other important functions. The human body can handle carrying some extra fat, but beyond a certain point, body fat can interfere with your health. In addition to impacting one’s quality of life, obesity increases the risk of developing serious health conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
The balance between calorie intake and energy expenditure determines a person’s weight. If you consume more calories than you expend through exercise and daily activities, you gain weight. Your body stores the excess calories that you do not need for energy as fat. Factors that can contribute to obesity include:
Achieving a healthy weight is usually done through dietary changes combined with exercise. Depending on your situation, your doctor may suggest prescription medication to supplement these efforts.
Your heart is a muscle that acts as a pump. Upon receiving oxygen from the arteries wrapped around its surface, the heart will pump oxygenated blood throughout your body. Coronary artery (CAD) disease is a buildup of fatty deposits in the coronary arteries, which supply blood to the heart. These fatty substances, such as cholesterol, fat or cells that collect along the lining of the coronary arteries are called plaque. Most of the plaque build-up, either in the heart or the blood vessels, develops over the course of time. Because your arteries supply oxygen-rich blood to your heart, any blockages left untreated can result in the risk of you experiencing a heart attack, stroke or even death.
The patients most likely to develop heart disease have the following risk factors:
- High blood pressure
- A close relative with heart disease
- A high LDL cholesterol level
- High triglycerides
- Kidney disease
- No regular exercise program
You can help prevent or slow down the advancement of heart disease by adhering to the following regimen:
- Quit Smoking
- Lower your blood pressure
- Eat a healthy diet
- Exercise on a regular basis
- Get regular medical check-ups