High blood pressure (hypertension) is often called the “Silent Killer” because of a distinct lack of symptoms. The first time someone finds out they may have hypertension is after a routine test at the doctor’s office.
Your doctor can quickly and easily check your blood pressure, but do be warned, there is a very real syndrome called “White Coat Syndrome” where people’s blood pressure actually increases as a direct response to visiting the doctor. Mine did just that, so every test the doctor did pointed to high blood pressure. My solution to this was to buy a home digital blood pressure monitor. They are relatively cheap, and are very accurate (although do get it checked by your doctor for accuracy). The results were amazing, as my blood pressure taken at home was usually normal.
Since hypertension is a major factor in strokes and coronary heart disease, it is vital that we all get checked frequently.
While some people are at more risk of developing high blood pressure, the sad truth is that 90% or more of cases have unknown causes. For this reason, it is not possible to fully answer the question of what causes high blood pressure, although we can highlight a number of factors thought to be involved.
Blood pressure is carefully controlled by the human body, keeping it within very strict limits. Simply put, if blood pressure drops, the body can contract the smooth muscles in arteries and arterioles, decreasing the size of the blood vessels, which in turn increases the resistance encountered by the blood trying to push its way through. Blood pressure increases. If blood pressure becomes too high, the body can reverse this process.
This obviously does not explain long-term hypertension, which places a huge strain on both arteries and the heart itself. The factors which have been linked to causing high blood pressure include the following:
Salt in the diet
Obviously most of these factors are within our own control (with the exception of genetics), so we do have the potential to lower our blood pressure by more natural means. Following a healthy diet with increased fruit and vegetables intake, while reducing those factors harmful to our health can help lower blood pressure. If you are over-weight, losing a few pounds can help a lot. Even walking for 30 minutes, 3 times a week can have beneficial effects on your blood pressure.
There is a diet called the DASH diet that has been clinically proven to lower blood pressure. Its worth looking it up.
However, as with all things medical, consult your doctor before starting any exercise program or radically changing your diet.