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High Blood pressure: Major Risk Factors to Watch for

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While it may be possible to determine the exact cause(s) of high blood pressure in a specific case, in many cases it may be difficult to pin down. However, various risk factors for high blood pressure have been identified, over time. Risk factors are various variables that can predispose an individual to increased risk of having high blood pressure. One or more of these factors may be at work in a particular case, leading high blood pressure.

In effect, these are factors to watch out for, if you want to minimise the risk of developing high blood pressre. If you already have a history of high blood pressure, the challenge is to see how to eliminate any of these factors that may be present, as that would improve your chances of achieving effective control.

Risk Factor Categories
The risk factors for high blood pressure have been broadly classified into two groups:

  • Uncontrollable Factors, and
  • Controllable Factors

1. Uncontrollable risk factors for high blood pressure are generally not well within the individual's realm of control. That means that your effort at beating high blood pressure will focus more on the controllable factors. The following are identified uncontrollable factors:

  • Age: You can't control your age, and as age increases, you run into higher risk of high blood pressure, statistics have shown. That does not exclude any risk for a young person, but it definitely means more risk as you add more years. From age 35, you should pay closer attention to your blood pressure. Checking your blood pressure becomes more important as you get older, because it tends to come with age. That where having a home blood pressure monitor is highly recommended by health experts, as regular checks become vital.
  • Race: The reason may not be well-known, but in mixed race societies like America, it's been observed that the black community has recorded higher rates of high blood pressure. Not only that, the black community has also tended to fall prey much earlier in life and come down with more severe cases. Statistics also show that they suffered more early deaths from the high blood pressure-related health problems: heart disease, kidney failure and strokes.
  • Gender: Gender predisposition would seem of limited consequence, because everybody eventually comes down to about the same risk level. However, statistics show that, early in life, women record less cases of high blood pressure. That seems to balance out as time progresses.
  • Family History/Heredity: High blood pressure is not strictly established to be hereditary, but risks tend to be higher where there is a family history. That could easily be the result of feeding habits or lifestyle running in a family, rather than gene-induced.
  • Pregnancy: Some pregnancies induce high blood pressure and you probably won't avoid that. It's however important to check, when pregnant and if the BP is up, to get appropriate management by your doctor.

While you may not do much to prevent the above factors, it's obvious that more care should be exerciced, when they are present.

2. Controllable Factors: Here are other high blood pressure risk factors which you can make a deliberate choice to exclude:

  • Sedentary Lifestyle: Not being active or getting enough exercising is an unsafe habit and will expose you to increased risk of high blood pressure as well as other diseases. Get on you feet and move your body to stay healthy and avoid high BP. Take a walk daily for instance. Shoot for the 10,000 daily steps that have been recommended by health experts. A step counter/pedometer will help you track you performance and stay motivated.
  • Heavy Salt Intake: Excessive consumption of salt is an established risk factor for high blood pressure. It causes water retention which increases the burden on the heart. A salt-free eating habit is the best, but you should, at the worst, limit to a very low daily dose. A total of not more than a teaspoonful is considered the limit to allow for a day.
  • Overweight or Obesity: Body weight on the excessive side is also extra work for your heart and increased risk of ending with high blood pressure. Obesity signifies a state of excessive fat, which is even more serious than mere body weight that can come form solid muscles and bones. Trim your weight down, if on the heavy side and shed that fat as quickly as you can. Your body mass index (BMI) should be below 30 and ideally less than 25. Measuring just your weight on a scale is just not enough as you should be interested in your BMI and body fat composition. Handy devices to help you achieve that monitoring goal are already available, like the cutting edge fat monitors from Omron Healthcare Inc. The BF400 and BF500 will read your body weight, BMI, and body fat composition.
  • Poor Dietary Habits: Not eating well is certainly a risk to health, but in particular, can increase your risk of high blood pressure. Foods with high content of saturated and trans fats, plenty of calories or cholesterol are unhealthy. Processed foods, canned products, fast foods are all noted for adding to much fat, sodium or calories to the body system. That will increase your risk of getting high blood pressure, obesity and other health problems.
  • Alcohol Consumption: Too much alcohol is unhealthy and specifically raises your blood pressure, with the risk of chronic high blood pressure. Total avoidance is ideal, but you should at least minimise your consumption. Just a glass a day would probably not hurt, but immersing yourself in alcohol will most likely throw you into health problems that include, possibly, high blood pressure.
  • Tobacco Smoking: Tobacco raises your blood pressure when you take it, and if frequent, as in the case of habitual smoking, you unwittingly induce sustained elevated blood pressure. Full-blown high blood pressure may be the end-result. To avoid this HBP factors, simply drop the smoking habit.
  • Stress: High stress levels will, at least temporarily, elevate your blood pressure. If you sustain a tendency to stay stressed up, you invariably generate more frequent increases in your blood pressure. You could end up inducing high blood pressure for your self. Learn to relax, not with cigarettes or alcohol, but a positive attitude and activities that engender positive mental conditioning. A massager is also good as a relaxation tool. The TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator) massagers that are offered on this web site are high quality and yet, simple to use, massagers. They can help you relieve stress, stay healthy and avoid high blood pressure. The Omron E4 massager brings a particularly sublime experience that you will like to repeat, all the time.
  • Some Other Health Conditions: High cholesterol level, diabetes, kidney disease are some of the other health conditions that may pre-dispose you to high blood pressure, if you already have any of them. That means that you have to manage those conditions properly, to avoid further complication with high blood pressure.
  • Pre-hypertension: This is a blood pressure level that signals the possible onset of high blood pressure, though not in itself classified as hypertension. If you get into a pre-hypertension condition (120 - 139/80 - 89 range), the risk of full-blown hypertension is increased. That requires moving quickly to work down your blood pressure to the normal range. Regular monitoring will help, which is why a personal digital blood pressure monitor, for home use, will be a necessity. .

Should You Risk it?
High blood pressure is a killer disease. Its increased danger results from the fact that it is often silent - it harms the victim without showing identifiable symptoms. Many victims.are therefore often unaware of the danger that is looming. Checking your blood pressure regularly is the way to find out your status and keep monitoring it. But beyond that, there are known risk factors which you should immediately resolve to avoid. If you are exposed to any of the listed factors, especially the controllable ones, you certainly will be helping yourself by kicking the habit. Prevention, remember, is better than a cure.

© 2008

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