Heart Smart Living
Heart Smart Living

Cardiologist, author, and heart health expert Dr. Sarah Samaan offers advice on how to live a heart smart life.

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Hypertension: It’s Time to Take it to Heart

The latest statistics on hypertention in the U.S.

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Salt shaker and a pile of salt.High blood pressure, or hypertension, is called the “silent killer” for a very good reason. This usually painless condition is a major contributor to heart disease, stroke, dementia, and kidney failure. Hypertension, defined as a blood pressure of 140/90 or greater, is almost always treatable, although there is no one-size-fits-all solution.

In years past, side effects were a huge problem with blood pressure medications. With the wide range of medications now available, we can usually find a drug, or combination of drugs, that will work well for each individual, although some trial and error may be involved. What’s more, many excellent drugs are now sold as generics, so financial concerns are much less of an issue than ever before.

A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), published in this February’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly, found that nearly one in three adults, or 68 million of us Americans, are hypertensive. Of these, only half have the problem under control, and about one third are on no medication at all. Younger adults in particular are less likely to have their pressures controlled, meaning more years for hypertension to do its dirty work on the arteries of the heart, brain, and kidneys.

Diet, including high salt and high fat foods, obesity, and lack of exercise are all factors that contribute to high blood pressure. These are up to you. The CDC estimates that if we were to simply cut our daily salt intake by one third, we could eliminate 11 million cases of hypertension, free of cost. This is important, since 90 percent of adults eat more salt than the recommended 1500 mg daily. Whether your high blood pressure is genetic or lifestyle related, or a combination of the two, treatment is vital.

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Tags: Diet and Heart Health , Risk Factors for Heart Disease

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About the Author


MD, FACC

Dr. Samaan is an acclaimed cardiologist, writer, and heart health educator.

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