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High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is often called the silent killer. This nickname comes from the fact that often a person is unaware that he or she has high blood pressure.
The hypertension rate in the United States is 1 in 3. That equates to approximately 72 million people. Of that number, 40 percent are African-American!
Some of the factors which can increase the risk of developing hypertension are an inactive lifestyle, being overweight, and consuming too much salt in the diet. The normal aging process can also increase the risk.
High blood pressure can cause damage to the arteries, heart, brain, kidneys, and eyes. This is the reason why it should be controlled by diet, exercise, and if necessary, medication.
Hypertension killed 54,186 people in the United States in 2004. This number breaks down into the following percentages in a population rate per 100,000:
Category | % Death Rate
white males 15.6
black males 49.9
white females 14.3
black females 40.6
No one can prevent themselves from getting older, but everyone can decrease their risk of developing high blood pressure by exercising and following a sound nutritional program. The DASH diet provides the guidelines for such a healthy eating program.
The DASH (dietary approach to stop hypertension) program is common sense. It calls for a lot more fruit and vegetables, a reduction in salt intake, and limiting saturated fat intake while simultaneously including more healthy fats.
Americans are not eating enough fruits and vegetables. We should be eating at least 7 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. The serving size can go all the way up to 9. Unlike saturated fat, you really cant eat too much.
The typical American diet is high in salt. An average American uses anywhere from 4,000 to 6,000 mg (milligrams) of salt. The recommended dietary limit is 2,000 mg per day.
Saturated fat is important in the diet but too much can have serious negative health consequences. Concentrate on leaner meats such as chicken and turkey breasts, fish, and lean cuts of beef or even pork occasionally. I suggest buying organic meat in order to avoid antibiotics, hormones, and pesticides.
Good fats such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated should be included daily. Extra-virgin olive oil is a good source of monounsaturated fat. Nuts such as walnuts and almonds are a good source of polyunsaturated fats. Omega-3 fatty acid is a polyunsaturated fat which needs to be increased in the American diet. Salmon is an excellent source of this fat.
Last, but certainly not least, daily exercise has to be thrown into the mix. Exercise will go a long way towards bringing the blood pressure numbers into an acceptable range.
Your blood pressure is made up of two numbers, the systolic which is the top number, and the diastolic, the lower number. Note the following chart:
Category | Systolic | Diastolic
normal | 130 or less | 80 or less
hi-normal | 130 to 139 | 81 to 89
hi-blood pres. | 140 or greater | 90 or greater
optimal | 120 or less | less than 80
pre-hypertension | 130 | 80
Medical authorities are now saying that the systolic or top number is the more important. The systolic measures the pressure against your artery walls when the heart beats. The diastolic is the pressure in between beats.Healthy living > Heart > Hypertension