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October 29, 2006

High Blood Pressure and Genetics

Is High Blood Pressure Hereditary?

There is growing evidence to support the speculation that high blood pressure is, in fact, hereditary. That might be good news for individuals who are concerned about their health but don’t recall any family members afflicted with high blood pressure. It can be unsettling news for individuals who have experienced a close family member or relative struggling to treat high blood pressure and its associated complications.

Are Identical Twins the Key?

The most reliable evidence indicating that a tendency towards high blood pressure is probably hereditary involves studies that evaluate the blood pressure of identical twins. The blood pressure of identical twins has been demonstrated in studies to be more similar than the blood pressure of fraternal twins. This suggests a genetic component.

Heredity Isn’t A Guarantee

If you do have a family history of high blood pressure, it doesn’t necessarily mean you will develop high blood pressure yourself and if your family doesn’t have a history of high blood pressure, you should still make every effort to control environmental factors in your life that can cause it. You should strive to maintain a healthy weight and make sure you get plenty of exercise. You should also pay attention to your diet and limit your intake of sodium and prepackaged or canned foods that contain high amounts of it.

More Research Means More Answers

Knowing how genes affect blood pressure can really help researchers with identifying ways to prevent and treat high blood pressure. When prevention is directed towards those who would benefit most, it is usually most effective. At present there are some puzzling areas that researchers don’t fully understand. Some medications to treat high blood pressure work more effectively in some individuals than others. Genetics may or may not play a role in this. That’s why it is important for individuals who suffer from high blood pressure to keep their doctors updated on their progress. If you are prescribed a high blood pressure medication and you aren’t experiencing lowered blood pressure, make sure you let your doctor know.

October 28, 2006

Blood Pressure Medication: What You Need To Know

Blood Pressure Medication May Have Significant Side Effects

There is certainly an abundance of prescription blood pressure medication on the market. For many of us, blood pressure medication is an important part of treating blood pressure and maintaining cardiovascular health. Unfortunately, no medication cones free of side effects. If you’re taking blood pressure medication or thinking of doing so in the future, there are some things you’ll want to know about.

Not All Blood Pressure Medication Is Created Equal

Blood pressure medications can have a wide variety of side effects. In order to understand the side effects of blood pressure medicines, it’s helpful to know about the various types of blood pressure medications available.

Medicines used to treat high blood pressure fall under eight different categories including diuretics, calcium channel blockers, beta-blockers, angiotensin II receptor blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme (or ACE) inhibitors, alpha-blockers, centrally acting drugs, and direct vasodilators. Many individuals are prescribed more than one type of blood pressure medication so the medications can work together to provide optimal results.

The Bad News

The bad news is that many people who take blood pressure medication will experience side effects – although they may not be at all severe and they may only be temporary. Side effects of high blood pressure medicine will vary based on the individual, but they can include dizziness, headache, weakness, drowsiness, cough, skin rash, diarrhea, and/or weight loss.

If you are taking a blood pressure medication and you experience any side effects, you need to let your doctor know. It is also very important to read the pamphlet that comes with your blood pressure medication. Familiarize yourself with any side effects of the particular medication that you are taking and make note of any special precautions. You should retain that informational pamphlet so you can refer to it quickly in the event that you experience any side effects or unpleasant symptoms.

Before taking a prescription blood pressure medication, alert your doctor to any over-the-counter supplements that you take. Over-the-counter blood pressure medications, even all-natural ones, can have an impact on the effectiveness of your prescription medication, so your doctor should definitely know about any supplements you might be taking.

The Good News

The good news is that high blood pressure can be treated successfully, although it might take some trial and error before you and your physician find the solution that’s best for you. Because blood pressure medication does have side effects, you should probably try to find a natural solution to your high blood pressure prior to taking a prescription medication. However, if natural methods fail, high blood pressure medication can literally save your life -- so the side effects may be worth it.

October 22, 2006

What is White Coat Hypertension?

High Blood Pressure and White Coat Hypertension

Individuals who suffer from high blood pressure should, in conjunction with their physician’s assistance, take every step necessary to control it. With so many prescription medications available to treat high blood pressure and the growing amount of information being made available to the medical community, you would think the issue of high blood pressure treatment would be clear cut. Unfortunately, the reality is not really black and white. A form of high blood pressure called white coat hypertension falls somewhere in the gray area.

What Exactly Is White Coat Hypertension?

White coat hypertension is a term that refers to elevated blood pressure that occurs only when a person is at the doctor’s office. There are some individuals who have normal blood pressure on a daily basis, but every time they go to the doctor’s office, they have a high blood pressure reading. Apparently, white coat hypertension can originate from the anxiety of visiting the doctor’s office.

Treating White Coat Hypertension

The issue of treating white coat hypertension is highly debated among the medical community. There haven’t been many studies conducted investigating white coat hypertension. The studies that have been conducted, however, suggest that patients who have white coat hypertension are not at much cardiovascular risk as patients with continual high blood pressure.

Telling The Difference Between High Blood Pressure and White Coat Hypertension

If you have been told that you have high blood pressure, but are curious as to whether or not you have white coat hypertension, mention the possibility to your physician. You might be advised to check your blood pressure at home or you also might be advised to undergo 24-hour blood pressure monitoring at home, using ambulatory monitoring, to determine if your high blood pressure is really white coat hypertension.

White Coat Hypertension Is Not A Rarity

Many people mistakenly believe that white coat hypertension is a very rare occurrence. This, however, just isn’t the case. It is estimated that as many as 20% of individuals with mild hypertension actually have white coat hypertension. If you think you may be one of them, start an active dialogue with your physician.

Deep Breathing and High Blood Pressure

Can High Blood Pressure Really Be Lowered by Deep Breathing?

It’s seems like an odd connection, but an experiment earlier this year determined that deep breathing can may actually have a positive effect on high blood pressure. Thanks to the results of this recent study, it is now known that individuals with high blood pressure may experience some improvement in blood pressure levels just by breathing very slowly for a few minutes each day. Curious? Read on!

How Slow Should You Go?

The experiment conducted by Dr. David Anderson at the National Institutes of Health showed that slow breathing consisting of fewer than ten breaths in one minute can actually lower a person’s blood pressure. This is certainly a useful bit of information for individuals who suffer from hypertension.

While some people might assume that the lowered blood pressure has something to do with the euphoric feeling created by breathing slowly, the truth is that it has more to do with how the body regulates blood pressure. Anderson believes that salt is harder to break down if an individual isn’t breathing enough. By breathing slowly, a person can make their body more efficient at breaking down salt. This theory might even explain why exercise has been proven to reduce high blood pressure. Shallow breathing is all too easy when you are sedentary.

Why would breathing slowly have anything to do with the breakdown of salt by the body? The kidneys are the main organs involved in eliminating salt from your body, and deep breathing helps your kidneys work properly. This can lead to a more efficient body, which can further lead to a reduction in high blood pressure.

How Do You Know If You Have High Blood Pressure

Current guidelines by the American Heart Association suggest that a diastolic number between 140-159 is high as is a systolic number between 90-99. A diastolic number between 120-139 is considered prehypertensive as is a diastolic number between 80-89. Even a blood pressure reading of 120/80, which previously was considered ideal, is now considered prehypertensive.

High blood pressure has many negative health effects, so you definitely want to know your numbers. Getting your blood pressure checked can be as simple as going to the local pharmacy and using one of their blood pressure machines or buying an at-home blood pressure cuff.

If you find yourself in the prehypertensive range, you might want to try some deep breathing as recommended by Dr. Anderson. If your blood pressure is considered high, then you should arrange an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.

October 7, 2006

High Blood Pressure and Caffeine

Does Caffeine Cause High Blood Pressure?

Individuals who are afflicted with high blood pressure need to take special precautions -- especially when it comes to dietary habits. Drinking too much caffeine is one mistake that many high blood pressure sufferers make. If you think your morning cup of coffee and your afternoon can of soda have nothing to do with your high blood pressure, you may want to think twice.

Caffeine and High Blood Pressure Just Don’t Mix

Consuming too much caffeine can be very detrimental and unhealthy for someone who suffers from high blood pressure. Having high blood pressure requires frequent monitoring. If you overindulge in gourmet coffee and notice a negative change in how you feel, you might need to have your blood pressure checked just to be on the safe side.

If you insist that you need coffee to make it through the day, try to consider what it is you love about it. Perhaps, you just enjoy drinking a warm beverage. In that case, you can substitute decaffeinated coffee or herbal tea. Regular tea does have some caffeine, although it definitely contains less caffeine than coffee does. Herbal teas are typically caffeine-free and come in a wide variety of flavors so you are sure to find several flavors you love.

Life Isn’t Over

Because you need to cut back on the caffeine doesn’t mean your love affair with coffee is over. If you can’t stand the idea of consuming decaf coffee, try some of the low-caffeine blends that are now on the market. Whatever you do, steer clear of high-caffeine coffees and definitely avoid the occasional espresso shot. Caffeine is a stimulant and can increase your heart rate, which is definitely something you want to avoid if you already suffer from high blood pressure.

Remember that caffeine is a drug and like any other drug, it can interact with any medications you might be taking to control your blood pressure, so be careful. Avoiding high blood pressure can be achieved if you make the necessary dietary modifications and no matter what some people may say, no beverage is worth dying for.

October 6, 2006

Blood Pressure and Weight Loss

How Weight Loss Can Reduce High Blood Pressure

What many people don’t realize is that weight loss is an absolutely essential component of maintaining healthy blood pressure. Blood pressure can rise significantly in individuals who are overweight. The very reason that we don’t realize the connection between being overweight and high blood pressure is because so many individuals are carrying around extra, unnecessary pounds. If you have high blood pressure, you should definitely consider what weight loss can do to help lower your blood pressure levels.

First Things First

Before we go into the benefits of weight loss, there are a few things we need to consider. It’s important to note that some cases of high blood pressure need immediate attention and should be treated with medication. A physician can provide you with the best advice on whether or not you fit into this category. Realize, though, that many Americans are overweight, and many people taking blood pressure medication have not lost the weight their physicians have recommended. With weight loss, you can certainly achieve greater control of your blood pressure and, eventually, your doctor may be able to wean you off of your medication.

Current Weight Guidelines

Keep in mind the current weight guidelines. For females who are 5 feet tall, they should basically weight around 100 pounds. For every additional inch greater than 5 feet add on about 5 pounds. A male who is 5 feet tall should weigh about 110 pounds, and males can add 6 pounds for every inch they are over 5 feet. A male who is 5 feet 10 inches should weigh around 170 pounds. Weight loss is recommended for individuals who weigh more than the recommended guidelines.

Please note that the above weight guide is just a rough example. The exact number for your ideal body weight will be determined by your height and by your body type. For example, a female who is 5 feet 4 inches tall can weight between 114 pounds and 144 pounds, depending on her frame and her build. Anything more than 144 pounds would be considered overweight.

Realize that because so many Americans are overweight, we tend to visually think that a healthy weight is much greater than the actual government guidelines. Additional weight puts extra strain on your heart, which raises your blood pressure to potentially unhealthy levels. Having high blood pressure further damages your heart by increasing your risk of coronary artery disease. As you can see, high blood pressure can have serious health consequences, so weight loss is vitally important for individuals whose weight exceeds the recommended guidelines.

Time for the Scale

Step on a scale to see what you weigh. Check with your doctor if you are overweight and have high blood pressure. Weight loss will most likely be recommended, and it can help you achieve a long healthy life by keeping your blood pressure in check.

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