The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Body and Soul - - The Gp & The Naturopath -

also known as hy­per­ten­sion, af­fects about 25 per cent of peo­ple world­wide and is the num­ber one risk fac­tor for mor­tal­ity. By iden­ti­fy­ing and treat­ing it, we can de­crease the risk of con­di­tions such as heart at­tacks and strokes. Un­for­tu­nately, hy­per­ten­sion is of­ten un­di­ag­nosed or un­treated. Blood pres­sure is es­sen­tially the pres­sure of the blood in your ar­ter­ies. It is ex­pressed as 120/80 or 145/95. The top num­ber is the sys­tolic pres­sure (the pres­sure in the ar­ter­ies when the heart con­tracts) and the bot­tom num­ber is the di­as­tolic pres­sure (the pres­sure in the ar­ter­ies when the heart is re­lax­ing and re­fill­ing with blood). Both are im­por­tant and, in gen­eral, any­thing over 140/90 is con­sid­ered too high. Of­ten, no cause for hy­per­ten­sion can be found. How­ever, in some cases there may be a kid­ney prob­lem, hor­monal con­di­tion or a breath­ing prob­lem such as sleep ap­noea. Cer­tain med­i­ca­tions can ex­ac­er­bate the prob­lem. Life­style changes, such as stop­ping smok­ing, los­ing weight, ex­er­cis­ing reg­u­larly and cut­ting back on salt and al­co­hol, can re­sult in sig­nif­i­cant low­er­ing of blood pres­sure. De­pend­ing on the sever­ity of the hy­per­ten­sion, med­i­ca­tion may be re­quired. There are a range of anti-hy­per­ten­sives avail­able and your doc­tor will tai­lor a regime to suit you. Make sure your doc­tor mon­i­tors your blood pres­sure and any other risk fac­tors for car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease that you may have.

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