Beware! Of the "Silent Killer"! Known Professionally as Hypertension!

It is a well-documented fact that people who have significantly elevated blood pressure are at risk for a variety of health complications.  Hypertension or high blood pressure as it is commonly called, along with heart disease, and stroke cause approximately 950,000 deaths annually, 40% of which are in the United States.  Nearly one quarter of the U.S. population, approximately 58 million people, are affected by hypertension (high blood pressure or HBP) and show no obvious symptoms. Hence, hypertension is known as the "silent killer". In fact, hypertension is a world wide epidemic that is poorly controlled, with less than 25% of the cases controlled in developed countries and less than 10% in developing countries. Hypertension alone is the most important risk factor for heart failure. It is recognized as a major cardiovascular risk factor. The prevalence and hospitalization rates, particularly for heart failure, are hospital discharge among individuals 65 years or older. Blood pressure is the measurement of force exerted on an arterial wall as the heart beats (systolic), and then again between beats (diastolic). Hypertension specifically has a consistent reading of 140/90 or higher!

In addition, hypertension is the leading cause of strokes, kidney failure, and blindness. Stroke, the third leading cause of death, accounts for 150,000 deaths each year. Stroke alone accounts for disability of more than 1 million Americans. Having high blood pressure increases stroke risk four to six times. Hypertension applies stress of blood vessel walls, and can lead to strokes from blood clots or hemorrhage.

Hypertension has three primary risk factors: tobacco use, poor nutrition, and lack of exercise, all of which are reversible and correctable. A low level of fitness further increases the prevalence of hypertension. Physical inactivity is directly associated with an increase in mortality from cardiovascular disease. People who remain sedentary have twice the risk of heart disease than those who are active. More than half of U.S. adults do not achieve recommended levels of physical activity. Evidence accumulated over the past decades strongly supports the assertion that engaging in a physically active lifestyle has the potential to decrease, delay, or prevent the development of hypertension, along with having a favorable effect on blood pressure.

Another strong and independent risk factor for hypertension is obesity. Obesity may be one of the best predictors for the risks of developing hypertension in later life. Almost 60% of U.S. adults are overweight. Weight gain contributes to the rise in blood pressure with aging. Obesity is one of the leading factors that lead to Adult Onset Diabetes. Hence, weight loss has been shown to improve the quality of life by reducing blood pressure in hypertensive adults.

Furthermore, new studies show that job strain is directly linked to hypertension and heart disease. Eighty percent of Americans think their jobs are stressful, and people who have highly demanding jobs, with little latitude for making decisions, have higher blood pressures than those who do not. The effects of hypertension are also costly from a purely economic standpoint.

Overall, the most effective strategy that has aided in the control of hypertension and its substantial decline is the ability to detect, evaluate, and treat people with definite hypertension. Recent research advances have made it possible to monitor an individual's blood pressure, and are an important part of hypertension assessment and management. Indirect blood pressure measurement is safe, relatively painless and provides reliable information when performed accurately. Because high blood pressure is almost always "silent" (without symptoms), diagnosis and treatment hinge on accurate blood pressure measurements.

Unfortunately, there is no outwardly visible sign of hypertension. You cannot tell how high a personís blood pressure is by simply looking at them. According to Dr. Scott Perkins, the risk is high for a severely hypertensive patient to walk into his dental office and neither the patient nor the dentist knows this patient may be hypertensive. This can be very dangerous for the patient. The dentist administers local anesthesia to the patient, and the extra epinephrine in the blood stream increases the blood pressure even further by causing the smooth muscle on the inside of the arteries and arterioles to contract, decreasing the diameter of the blood vessel. The effect, according to Dr. Perkins, is much like a child holding his thumb over the brass nozzle of a water hose. We know from simple physics that decreasing the diameter of a hose while keeping the volume of flow constant increases the velocity of the liquid traveling down the hose, and increases pressure on the wall of the of the hose resulting in this case to heart attack or stroke. Both of these conditions can prove fatal for the patient in question.

Did you know that virtually every dental and dental hygiene school in the United States requires that blood pressure be measured on every patient as part of a dental exam? As you can see, knowing your blood pressure can be detrimental to your health. The next time you are at your health care providers office whether its' your Doctor, Dentist, Chiropractor or whomever; remind them to kindly check your blood pressure. Hypertension is a "Silent Killer". Beware of this enemy so that you may live long and prosper.

Linda D. Jacobs is a nationally recognized authority on the subject of carbohydrate addiction. A researcher and author of several books and publications, she is a noted speaker, lecturer and consultant, and maintains a busy worldwide seminar schedule. She is based in Houston, Texas, where she is President and CEO of CARBOTRONICS, INC., a company dedicated to research, diagnosis and treatment of carbohydrate addiction. She can be reached at 713-639-013







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