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What is hypertension?

Hypertension is the name of a condition in which blood pressure is persistently elevated (it stays high for a long period of time). Blood pressure is a measure of the pressure of the blood against the blood vessel walls. Persistent high blood pressure puts undue stress on the heart, blood vessels and other organs.

The Causes of High Blood Pressure

The causes of high blood pressure are a bit of a mystery. About 5% of patients requiring hypertension treatment can trace their high blood pressure to a physical cause such as kidney disease. Treatment of the disease reduces the symptoms of high blood pressure.

But for 95% of patients who undergo hypertension treatment, the causes of high blood pressure are unknown. Diet and stress are suspected as prime contributors to hypertension, but medical experts aren't exactly certain of all the mechanisms involved.

Symptoms of High Blood Pressure

As if it wasn't bad enough that the causes of high blood pressure are unknown, recognizable physical symptoms of high blood pressure are almost non-existent. Although some patients complain of dizziness, headaches or blurred vision, most patients only discover they need hypertension treatment when their blood pressure is taken.

Why is hypertension dangerous?

High blood pressure is a serious health risk for many people. Hypertension can cause hardening of the arteries, heart attacks and strokes. Heart and kidney disease, as well as hardening of the arteries, have been attributed to hypertension. Fortunately, hypertension treatment is well researched and readily available.

Who is at risk?

The short answer to this question is "everyone;" 25% of adult Americans suffer from hypertension. It's not alarmist to call it a national epidemic. Some people are at greater risk than others. Men are more likely to have high blood pressure than women.

For reasons as yet unknown, Americans of African descent have a much greater incidence rate of hypertension than any other racial group. Heart problems, strokes and diseases associated with hypertension show up in alarming numbers amongst the male African American population.

What are the Risks?

Physicians call hypertension the silent killer. Due to the lack of hypertension symptoms, often organ damage is the first indication of high blood pressure. This can take the form of kidney disease, stroke or changes in the retina of the eyes. Heart problems are very common with hypertension because high blood pressure forces the heart to work harder than it should.