When pressure exerted by blood on the walls of the arteries is greater than normal, blood pressure rises. Usually, blood pressure falls when at rest. It rises in response to strenuous physical activity, stress, or a perceived danger in which the sympathetic nervous system dominates, arteries constrict, and more blood is sent to the brain increasing blood pressure. This heightened state of the sympathetic system does not seem to retreat in individuals with hypertension and damage to the heart, kidney, arteries, and other organs becomes inevitable.
Blood pressure is considered high at a reading of 140/90. There are no symptoms of the illness and it is recommended individuals over 40 be checked. Hypertension can be controlled by permanent diet and lifestyle changes; this includes reducing stress, maintaining proper weight (not more than 5 lb overweight), and eating foods containing compounds that reduce blood pressure such as celery, garlic, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Having a home monitor is helpful. Smoking, alcohol, refined sugar, food allergies, and high-sodium foods can contribute to hypertension. Some people may need extra calcium to stabilize blood pressure. Some individuals are salt sensitive which causes a rise in their blood pressure. Daily exercises and various stress reduction techniques lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
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