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How To Deal With The Silent Killer

Aug 17, 2007
It's called The Silent Killer ... high blood pressure.

Also referred to as hypertension, high blood pressure can potentially lead to heart disease, stroke, dementia, congestive heart failure, kidney disease, and blindness. It's one of the ten (10) leading causes of death in the world. What's worse, recent studies have concluded that hypertention will increase by 60% by year 2025, with third world countries experiencing the largest increases.

Unfortunately, the reason high blood pressure is often referred to as the Silent Killer is because you're often unaware that you're suffering from it until you begin to experience the many side effects of the condition. This is one of the reasons your physician will check your blood pressure every time you're in for a check up or a visit, whether or not it pertains to hypertension.

So what can you expect if you're diagnosed with high blood pressure?

First and foremost, you can expect your physician to prescribe some lifestyle changes. At the top of the list: diet changes. Less alcohol, salt and sodium consumption. These can all contribute to your condition. Then there's your daily habits and practices, such as relaxation and reduced stress. Modern life, with its hectic pace and unending pressures can dramatically contribute to your raised blood pressure. Taking small steps to relieve the stress in your life can be very beneficial.

In addition, your physician will likely prescribe medication for your high blood pressure. If this is the case in your situation, you'll want to have a basic understanding of what's being prescribed and what it's supposed to do. The person who should be providing you with this information is, of course, your physician. So don't be afraid to ask questions.

Here's a list of some of the more commonly prescribed medications for hypertension. These will give you a foundation upon which you can build your understanding of what's going into your body and what questions you might have for your physician.

Diuretics - often referred to as "water pills," diuretics increase the body's excretion of fluids through the urine.

Beta Blockers - inhibit the effects of adrenalin, slowing the nerve impulses sent to the heart and blood vessels, which causes the heart to slow down because it requires less blood and oxygen.

Ace Inhibitors - the angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) is a hormone that narrows the veins during a high blood pressure attack. The ace inhibitor medication inhibits the production of the hormone and helps the veins to relax so that the blood pressure will drop.

Angiotensin Antagonist - primarily used for the treatment of hypertension when the patient has become intolerant of ACE inhibitor therapy (mentioned above).

Calcium Channel Blockers (CCBs) - calcium channel blocking agents affect the movement of calcium into the cells of the heart and blood vessels. As a result, they relax blood vessels and increase the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart while reducing its workload. Some of the calcium channel blocking agents are used to relieve and control angina pectoris (chest pain).

Alpha Blockers - work by dilating your blood vessels to reduce blood pressure. Some alpha-blockers are also used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or glaucoma. They may also be used for other conditions as determined by your doctor.

Alpha Beta Blockers - work the same way as alpha-blockers but also slow the heartbeat, as beta-blockers do. As a result, less blood is pumped through the vessels and the blood pressure goes down.

Nervous System Inhibitors - relax blood vessels by controlling nerve impulses. This causes the blood vessels to become wider and the blood pressure to go down.

Vasodilators - directly open blood vessels by relaxing the muscle in the vessel walls, causing the blood pressure to go down.

Dealing with high blood pressure is similar to dealing with many other conditions that appear to be on the increase in this time in man's history. Diabetes, heart disease, obesity, they all have a similar approach. Watch your diet, increase your activity level, keep an eye on your cholesterol, reduce your alcohol and tabacco consumption, and follow your physician's suggestions. Hypertension can be controlled. In fact, it can even be prevented. In both cases, however, a great deal of the responsibility lies squarely on the shoulders of the sufferer.

Don't let the Silent Killer show up in your life.
About the Author
David Silva is the webmaster for Blood Pressure Insights, a website dedicated to disseminating information on high blood pressure, it's risk factors, symptoms and treatments.
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