Written by Katelyn Schwanke (last updated September 5, 2008)
Twenty percent of Americans suffer from hypertension, or high blood pressure. High blood pressure is simply an increase of pressure in arteries (blood vessels that lead away from the heart to the rest of the body) above normal limits.
There are two basic types of hypertension. The first type is called essential or primary hypertension. Primary hypertension is characterized by the fact that no specific cause can be determined. The second type of hypertension is secondary hypertension, which is characterized by physiological causes, such as heart or kidney problems. Both types of hypertension can be caused by hereditary factors, high sodium intake, poor eating habits, stress, or too little physical activity.
If you begin to notice that you are frequently dizzy or fatigued or if you have frequent headaches or blurring of vision, you should be tested for hypertension. Your doctor may suggest two routes available to you for lowering your blood pressure: medicinal treatment and lifestyle changes.
Medicinal treatment may be necessary if your doctor determines that your hypertension is caused by hereditary factors, but may be unnecessary if it is caused by your current lifestyle. If you choose to lower your blood pressure naturally you may find that the results can be more permanent than if you take medication. The long-lasting results are due to a complete lifestyle change that is necessary to lower your blood pressure.
Personal eating habits are one of the first things that you can change in your life. Lowering the amount of sodium, processed foods (those not made from scratch) and foods high in fat (such as fast food, dairy products, or meat) can limit how hard your heart must work to push your blood throughout the body.
Next, you must make sure that you are exercising adequately. It is recommended that you exercise at least thirty minutes daily to keep in shape and at least sixty minutes a day to lose weight. Accompanying physical activity and healthy eating, you should reduce stress in your life. Stress triggers your brain into thinking the heart needs to be working harder; relaxation will decrease your heart rate and blood pressure.
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