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May 13, 2013

Don’t Ignore the Dangers of a Silent Killer

Don’t Ignore the Dangers of a Silent Killer

If someone told you that nearly 70 million Americans suffered from the same deadly disease, and that many of them didn’t even know it, would you believe it?

        Believe it or not, hypertension, also known as the silent killer, is responsible for about 1,000 U.S. deaths every day.

        Having high blood pressure means that your blood is pushing harder than it should be against your blood vessels. That pressure can cause damage to the walls of those vessels, which can harm organs and cause blood clots. This increases the risk for stroke, heart disease, kidney disease and other deadly illnesses. But because hypertension typically has no symptoms, it often strikes without warning.

        Fortunately, with the right treatment and some lifestyle changes, you can help keep high blood pressure in check.


    Am I too young to have high blood pressure?

    People ages 55 and older have the highest risk for hypertension. But today’s childhood obesity epidemic is causing a rise in high blood pressure for younger patients, as well. Between 1 and 3 percent of U.S. children now have hypertension.


    What else puts me at risk?

    Age and obesity aren’t the only risk factors for hypertension. Others include:

·         Lack of exercise

·         An unhealthy diet featuring too much salt and saturated and trans fats

·         Smoking

·         Family history


    What can I do to manage risk?

    Fortunately, healthy lifestyle choices can help reserve high blood pressure or prevent it from developing at any age. Try these tips:

·         Find ways to increase your activity during the day. Take a 10-minute walk at lunch or try parking farther away in the parking lot.

·         Try adding more fruit, vegetables and whole grains to your diet.

·         Maintain a healthy weight.

·         Try using exercise, music or other relaxation techniques to cope with stress.


    Lifestyle changes may not be enough to control hypertension. Have your blood pressure checked regularly and work with your health care team including your doctor and pharmacist to bring high numbers down. Your doctor will help you work toward a target that is right for you. In some cases, your health care team may recommend medications.

Lifestyles for Healthy Living

Spring 2013/BCBSM.com

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