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The Basics of Hypertension: The Silent Killer

Hypertension is one of the most common conditions in our society and carries a large disease burden, contributing to myocardial infarctions, strokes, renal failure and death. In this week’s segment, we will preface the lecture Dr. Amar Kalidas will deliver tonight (5/21/2015) and touch on the basics of hypertension, the silent killer.

What is Hypertension and how is it measured?
According to the 8th Joint National Committee, Hypertension can be defined as elevated blood pressure measured at two different clinical visits. Blood pressure is expressed by two elements, diastolic and systolic pressures, which are the minimum and maximum blood pressures in the arterial system.

Hypertension is tricky, because many people can suffer from it for years without facing any systems. Meanwhile during this silent period, the elevated blood pressure is causing significant stress to vital organs, including the heart, kidney, brain and eyes.
What can be done to treat hypertension?
In all stages of hypertension and in pre-hypertensive patients (120-139/80-89), the first and foremost recommendation is always diet and lifestyle modifications.
The DASH (Dietary approaches to stop Hypertension) diet has been studied by researchers, and approved by organizations such as the American Heart Association and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. The DASH diet involves more than just the traditional low salt or low sodium advice. It is based on an eating plan rich in fruits, vegetables and low-fat or nonfat dairy. It emphasizes whole grains and contains less refined grains. Rich in potassium, magnesium, calcium and fiber, this diet has been shown to aid in blood pressure control and overall health.
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In addition to diet, exercise is a vital component to blood pressure control. A total of 2.5 hours of exercise a week, including walking, can be a great way to kick off an exercise program.
In most cases, hypertension is controlled with medications, which can include several classes, including diuretics, ACE inhibitors, ARBs, calcium channel blockers, alpha blockers and beta blockers. A patient’s primary care physician will consider the patient’s co-morbidities and the side effect profile of medications prior to initiating any anti-hypertensive.

Magnesium also has a role in reducing blood pressure, as it acts as a smooth muscle relaxer. Prior to initiating any medications or supplements, it is always best to consult your health care professional.

Hypertension extends beyond just numbers, and has a vital impact on your health. Join us today as Dr. Amar Kalidas expands on these basics and provides more insight on what you can do to help your blood pressure and overall health.

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