High Blood Pressure, also know as Hypertension, increases the risk of serious diseases and conditions such as heart disease and stroke. In the US, heart disease is the most common form of death and stroke is the third leading cause. Other risk factors of high blood pressure include congestive heart failure & kidney disease. High blood pressure can have a huge impact on a person’s life. Overall, the incidence of hypertension is about the same in men and women. However, there are gender differences between age groups. In people under the age of 45, the incidence is higher in men; in the over 65 year age category, it is higher in women. There are also race differences; it is more common among African Americans than Caucasians and less likely to occur in Mexican-Americans. In the US, approximately 1 in 3 adults has high blood pressure, however most people are not aware they have this condition due to a lack of signs or symptoms.
High Blood Pressure Education Month encourages people to look at various lifestyle factors which may be contributing to high blood pressure. It is well documented that high levels of sodium (salt) is linked to high blood pressure. In the US, the majority of people consume more than twice the level of recommended sodium intake. Guidelines recommend up to 2,300mg of sodium per day for an adult. Those at higher risk should consume even less (up to 1,500mg of sodium a day). Higher risk groups include those who have diabetes, kidney disease, existing high blood pressure, and African American people.
Lifestyle changes which can help reduce blood pressure, include maintaining a healthy body weight, regular exercise, quitting smoking and following a healthy low sodium diet.