High Blood Pressure: The Silent Attack on Life
Many of us have heard the sayings “Silence is Golden” and “Ignorance is Bliss”. However, these proverbs do not hold true with chronic diseases such as hypertension or high blood pressure.
Blood pressure is the force of blood pumped from your heart into the vessels known as arteries which delivers blood throughout your body. Each time your heart beats, blood is forced along the wall of the arteries and the impact is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). This process is known as systole. When the heart rests between beats, blood pressure decreases, a process known as diastole. Normal blood pressure is a systolic pressure less than 120 mmHg and a diastolic pressure less than 80 mmHg and is expressed as 120/80 mmHg.
Hypertension is defined by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institutes (NHLBI) as a blood pressure greater than 139/89 mmHg. Individuals with a pressure between 120/80 mmHg and 139/89 mmHg are considered “pre-hypertensive” and are likely to develop hypertension in the future. Today, hypertension is a disease which is listed as a primary or contributing cause of death for more than 270,000 Americans annually. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 40 percent of the entire African-American population has high blood pressure.
The most alarming news overall is that many people are unaware they have hypertension. This disease which can lead to stroke, heart attacks, heart failure and kidney disease, is often termed the “silent killer”, because the disease is usually present without symptoms.
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