Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, affects approximately 50 million Americans. This condition occurs when blood travels through the arteries of the body at a dangerously high pressure, putting strain on major organs of the body such as the heart, kidneys and brain. Blood pressure is expressed as two values given in units of millimeters of mercury (mmHg). The blood pressure of a resting, healthy young adult should be 120/80. In general, a person is considered to have hypertension when their blood pressure is persistently higher than 140/90 at rest. Hypertension occurs most often among men of African American descent.
How does hypertension develop?
Primary hypertension, which accounts for about 90 percent of all cases of hypertension, has no obvious single cause and may possibly have more than one cause. When the cause of hypertension is known, it is referred to as secondary hypertension. In five to 10 percent of the individuals with secondary hypertension, the cause is kidney disease. In 1 to 2 percent, the cause is a condition such as a hormonal disorder or the use of certain drugs such as oral contraceptives. Lifestyle and genetic factors may also contribute. Obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, stress and excessive amounts of alcohol or salt in food all play a role in the development of high blood pressure. Thick blood, food allergies and magnesium and calcium deficiency can also play a role.
Blood pressure typically increases temporarily when someone is under stress, but returns to normal once the stress is over. Hypertension is most common among middle aged and elderly people as their arteries become more rigid with age.
What are the symptoms of hypertension?
High blood pressure typically has no symptoms, although there are many coincidental symptoms that are widely believed to be associated with high blood pressure. These include headaches, nosebleeds, dizziness, a flushed face and fatigue. Although people with high blood pressure may have many of these symptoms, they occur just as frequently in those with normal blood pressure. If a person has high blood pressure that is severe or longstanding and left untreated, symptoms such as headache, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, restlessness, and blurred vision can occur as a result of damage to the brain, eyes, heart and kidneys. In rare cases, high blood pressure may cause brain swelling, which can lead to drowsiness and coma.
Conventional medical treatments may help relieve the symptoms of hypertension, but they do not address the root of the problem. By addressing imbalances in the body, such as blood insulin levels, and making changes in diet and lifestyle, as natural medicine treatments do, hypertension may be resolved.
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