Questions and myths with hypertension

May 25, 2010 3:10:14 PM PDT
A new report has good news and bad news about how Americans are doing in controlling high blood pressure. The good news is that half of us who have hypertension have got it under control.

The bad news is that the total number of sufferers is not going down.

Hypertension, which means high blood pressure is a risk factor for heart attack and strokes.

We know pills can help us control it, but sometimes we think we can do it ourselves, and we should try, but we should be doing the right things.

If you don't know what your resting blood pressure is, you should ask your doctor.

Common myths are that high blood pressure is caused by too much stress, or that only men get high blood pressure, or that it's a normal part of aging, or that it's nerves. However, none of that is accurate.

Another myth is that younger people don't have to worry about high blood pressure. Also not true. In fact, the study found younger people more likely to not bring it under control.

The study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reviewed a representative sampling of the health records of thousands of Americans.

"Younger people ages 19 to 39 were less likely to have their blood pressure controlled than people that were older," said Dr. Brent Egan, with Medical University of South Carolina.

Is the tendency to have high blood pressure inherited? Yes, it can be, but there are other factors that affect it.

"Obesity can have a big impact high salt diet, some people it will have an effect, not in everybody," said Dr. David Frid with the Cleveland Clinic.

So will cutting out salt in the diet bring down the numbers? In some people, it could.

Coffee is also believed to temporarily spike up numbers, but newly released research says it could be the sugar rather than the caffeine.

When researchers cut out soda from people with hypertension, the upper number, the systolic, came down.

"There's something about sugars, fructose that seems to have an effect on blood pressure," adds Dr. Frid.

One proven effective therapy for bringing down blood pressure is exercise.

The goal is to have high blood pressure numbers down to no higher than 120 over 80.

While some people can make lifestyle changes and bring down their numbers, medications is sometimes the only effective therapy.

"I feel so much better and it's also peace of mind that I know that I am doing everything I can possibly do to have a healthier future," said Janice Freeman.

Medication can work but it may take time to find the right drug and the right dosage for you.

But don't depend totally on medication Bring weight down, move and practice good diet habits all together is the ideal way to bring down high blood pressure.