High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a condition where
the pressure of blood flowing against the walls of the arteries is
higher than normal. Everyone’s blood pressure fluctuates up and
down throughout the day, but chronic high blood pressure is a serious
health risk that afflicts both young and old alike. It has no symptoms
and is called “the silent killer.” It can happen to anyone;
even thin people. But overweight people are much more at risk for this
condition, as well as blood containing too much fat, cholesterol, and
triglycerides which can lead to heart
disease, stroke, and kidney
The good news is that sometimes weight loss alone can reduce blood
pressure. The risks of hypertension are very good reasons to be concerned
if you are overweight. Please see the articles below for more insight
into hypertension and what you can do about it. The books and products
offered here can help you maintain control of your blood pressure.
Protect Your Heart!
Prevent High Blood Pressure
National Institutes of Health
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
And Office of Research on Minority Health
is blood pressure?
high blood pressure really a big deal?
high blood pressure.
your high blood pressure.
Anyone can develop high blood pressure, also called hypertension. African
Americans are at higher risk for this serious disease than any other
race or ethnic group. High blood pressure tends to be more common, happens
at an earlier age, and is more severe for many African Americans. The
good news is that high blood pressure can be controlledand better yet,
it can be prevented!
What is blood pressure?
Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against your blood vessels.
Your blood pressure is at its greatest when your heart contracts and
is pumping blood. This is systolic blood pressure. When your heart rests
between beats, your blood pressure falls. This is called diastolic blood
pressure. Blood pressure is always given as these two numbers: the systolic
and diastolic pressures. The numbers are usually written one above or
before the other, with systolic first, for example, 120/80.
Is high blood pressure really a big deal?
YES! When your blood pressure is high, your heart has to work harder
than it should to pump blood to all parts of the body. High blood pressure
is called the "silent killer" because most people feel healthy and donšt
even know that they have it. If it is not treated, high blood pressure
- heart attack
- kidney problems
- eye problems
Know your number.
Have your blood pressure checked. It is easy, quick, and painless.
Your blood pressure should be checked by your health care provider
at least once each year.
If you have high blood pressure, it should be checked more often.
You can have your blood pressure checked at your doctoršs office,
your neighborhood clinic, health fairs at your church, or some
Check below to see where you fit in.
Blood pressure categories (adults age 18 and over)
||130 or less
||85 or less
||85 - 89
|High blood pressure
||140 or more
||90 or more
Strive for an optimal blood pressure of 120/80 or less.
Prevent high blood pressure.
If your blood pressure is not high now, take steps to prevent it from
becoming high. Herešs how:
Aim for a healthy weight.
Choose foods lower in fat and calories.
Eat smaller portions.
Try not to gain extra weight. Lose weight
if you are overweight. Try losing weight slowly, about 1/2
to 1 pound each week until you
reach a healthy weight.
Be physically active every day.
Eat less salt and sodium.
Read the food label. Choose foods with less salt and sodium.
Prepare lower sodium meals from scratch instead of using convenience
foods that are high in sodium.
Use spices, herbs, and salt free seasoning blends instead of salt.
Use only small amounts of cured or smoked meats for flavor.
Use less salt when cooking.
What else can you do? Add spice to your life.
When you cook, try adding herbs and spices instead of salt.
Poultry, Fish, Meat:
||Ginger, rosemary, thyme, curry powder, dill, sage, tarragon,
oregano, cloves, orange rind
||Curry powder, pepper, lemon juice, ginger, marjoram,
||Garlic, onion, sage, ginger, curry, cloves, bay leaf,
||Thyme, ginger, onion, dill, garlic
||Garlic, pepper, paprika, thyme, onion, sage
||Thyme, onion, dill, cumin, oregano, garlic, tarragon,
||Garlic, pepper, thyme, onion
Eat more fruits and vegetables.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables in meals and as snacks.
- Add more vegetables to stews and casseroles.
- Serve fruit as a dessert more often.
Be active every day.
- Walk a little further each day or walk to the bus stop.
- Dance, skip, jump, run . . . take every opportunity to move your
- Use the stairs instead of the elevator.
Cut back on alcoholic beverages.
Alcohol raises blood pressure. Alcohol also adds calories and may
make it harder to lose weight. Men who drink should have no more than
two drinks a day. Women who drink should have no more than one drink
a day. Pregnant women should not drink any alcohol.
Lower your high blood pressure.
If you have high blood pressure, you may be able to lower or keep your
high blood pressure down. Practice these steps.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Be more active every day.
- Eat fewer foods high in salt and sodium.
- Cut back on alcoholic beverages.
You may also need medicine to lower your high blood pressure. Tell your
doctor about any medicine you are already taking.
Follow these tips if you take medicine:
- Take your medicine the way your doctor tells you. To help you remember,
plan to take your medicine at the same time every day.
- Tell the doctor right away if the medicine makes you feel strange
or sick. The doctor may make changes in your medicine.
- Make sure you donšt miss any days. Refill your prescription before
you use up your medicine.
- Have your blood pressure checked often to be sure your medicine is
working the way you and your doctor planned.
- Donšt stop taking your medicine if your blood pressure is okay--that
means the medicine is working.
|Keep a record of your blood pressure.
Check what you will do to prevent or lower your high
blood pressure. Try to do them all.
Maintain a healthy weight.
Be more active every day.
Eat fewer foods high in salt and sodium.
Eat more fruits and vegetables.
Cut back on the number of alcoholic beverages, if you drink.
Have blood pressure checked.
Take medicine the way the doctor says.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
Public Health Service
National Institutes of Health
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
NIH Publication No. 97-4062
[Back to Contents]
Diabetes and High Blood Pressure
About Diabetes and High Blood Pressure...
Diabetes is a disease in which blood sugar levels are above normal.
This high blood sugar can damage many parts of the body, such as the
heart, blood vessels, and kidneys.
High blood pressure occurs commonly in people with diabetes. Individuals
with diabetes are twice as likely to develop high blood pressure, as
are those without diabetes. Having both high blood pressure and high
blood sugar increases your risk for heart and blood vessel damage,
which may lead to chest pain (angina), heart attacks, weakened heart
muscles (called cardiomyopathy [KAR-dee-oh-my-OP-uh-thee]), stroke,
and kidney problems. Blood vessels become clogged with cholesterol,
which causes them to be narrower than normal. Narrowed blood vessels
lead to high blood pressure. Having high blood pressure can cause kidney
damage and having kidney damage can increase blood pressure, so both
problems become worse. Narrowed blood vessels can also lead to problems
with blood flow in legs and feet, called peripheral vascular disease.
Between 35 and 75% of all complications associated with diabetes can
be attributed to high blood pressure.
What increases my risk for diabetes and high blood pressure?
Being black or Hispanic. Blacks are twice as likely and Hispanics
are three times as likely as non-Hispanic whites to have both diabetes
and high blood pressure.
Being overweight or obese
Having a parent, brother, or sister with either problem
Being inactive, exercising less than 3 times a week
What can I do to decrease my chance of developing problems from high
blood pressure and diabetes?
Keep your blood sugar as close to normal as you can.
Keep your blood pressure below 130/85. If you need medicines
to lower your blood pressure, talk with your doctor about the best
Keep your cholesterol and other blood fats as close to normal
as you can.
Follow the healthy eating plan worked out with your dietitian
and doctor. Eat meals and snacks around the same
times each day.
Be active at least 30 minutes each day. Use stairs,
park farther from the shopping center, walk, swim,
doctor about the best activities for you.
your diabetes and blood pressure medicines at the same times
Ask your doctor if you should take an aspirin
each day to help protect your heart.
Tell your doctor right away if you
think you have any signs
of heart or blood vessel
blood vessel problems
can be shortness of
breath; dizziness; pain in the chest, arms, shoulder,
or back; sudden
trouble talking; or
numbness or weakness in one arm or one leg. You
also may feel very tired and have swollen ankles
High Blood Pressure and Kidney Disease
Your kidneys play a key role in keeping your blood pressure in a healthy
range, and blood pressure, in turn, can affect the health of your kidneys.
High blood pressure, also called hypertension, can damage the kidneys.
What is high blood pressure?
Hypertension can result from too much fluid in
normal blood vessels or from normal fluid in narrow blood vessels.
Blood pressure measures the force of blood against the walls of your
blood vessels. Blood pressure that remains high over time is called
hypertension. Extra fluid in your body increases the amount of fluid
in your blood vessels and makes your blood pressure higher. Narrow
or clogged blood vessels also raise blood pressure.
If you have high blood pressure, see your doctor regularly.
How does high blood pressure hurt my kidneys?
High blood pressure makes your heart work harder and, over time, can
damage blood vessels throughout your body. If the blood vessels in
your kidneys are damaged, they may stop removing wastes and extra fluid
from your body. The extra fluid in your blood vessels may then raise
blood pressure even more. It’s a dangerous cycle.
High blood pressure is one of the leading causes of kidney failure,
also commonly called end-stage renal disease (ESRD). People with kidney
failure must either receive a kidney transplant or go on dialysis.
Every year, high blood pressure causes more than 15,000 new cases of
kidney failure in the United States.
How will I know whether I have high blood pressure?
Most people with high blood pressure have no symptoms. The only way
to know whether your blood pressure is high is to have a health professional
measure it with a blood pressure cuff. The result is expressed as two
numbers. The top number, which is called the systolic pressure, represents
the pressure when your heart is beating. The bottom number, which is
called the diastolic pressure, shows the pressure when your heart is
resting between beats. Your blood pressure is considered normal if
it stays below 120/80 (expressed as "120 over 80"). People with asystolic
blood pressure of 120 to 139 or a diastolic blood pressure of 80 to
89 are considered prehypertensive and should adopt health-promoting
lifestyle changes to prevent diseases of the heart and blood vessels.
How will I know whether I have kidney damage?
Kidney damage, like hypertension, can be unnoticeable and detected
only through medical tests. Blood tests will show whether your kidneys
are removing wastes efficiently. Your doctor may refer to tests for
serum creatinine and BUN, which stands for blood urea nitrogen. Having
too much creatinine and urea nitrogen in your blood is a sign that
you have kidney damage.
Another sign is proteinuria, or protein in your urine. Proteinuria
has also been shown to be associated with heart
disease and damaged
How can I prevent high blood pressure from damaging my kidneys?
If you have kidney damage, you should keep your blood pressure below
130/80. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), one
of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), recommends that people
with kidney disease use whatever therapy is necessary, including lifestyle
changes and medicines, to keep their blood pressure below 130/80.
How can I control my blood pressure?
NHLBI has found that five lifestyle changes can help control
Maintain your weight at a level close to normal. Choose
fruits, vegetables, grains, and low-fat dairy foods.
Limit your daily sodium (salt) intake to 2,000 milligrams
or lower if you already have high blood pressure. Read nutrition
labels on packaged foods to learn how much sodium is in one
serving. Keep a sodium diary.
Get plenty of exercise, which means at least 30 minutes
of moderate activity, such as walking, most days of the week.
Avoid consuming too much alcohol. Men should limit consumption
to two drinks (two 12-ounce servings of beer or two 5-ounce
servings of wine or two 1.5-ounce servings of "hard" liquor)
a day. Women should have no more than a single serving
on a given day because metabolic differences make women
Limit caffeine intake.
Are there medicines that can help?
Many people need medicine to control high blood pressure. Two groups
of medications called ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitors
and ARBs (angiotensin receptor blockers) lower blood pressure and have
an added protective effect on the kidney in people with diabetes. Additional
studies have shown that ACE inhibitors and ARBs also reduce proteinuria
and slow the progression of kidney damage in people who do not have
diabetes. You may need to take a combination of two or more blood pressure
medicines to stay below 130/80.
What groups are at risk for kidney failure related to high blood
All racial groups have some risk of developing kidney
high blood pressure. African Americans, American Indians, and Alaska
Natives, however, are more likely than whites to have high blood pressure
and to develop kidney problems from it--even when their blood pressure
is only mildly elevated. In fact, African Americans are six times more
likely than whites to develop hypertension-related kidney failure.
People with diabetes also have a substantially increased risk for
developing kidney failure. People who are at risk both because of their
race and because of diabetes should have early management of high blood
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
(NIDDK), also part of NIH, sponsored the African American Study of
Kidney Disease and Hypertension (AASK) to find effective ways to prevent
high blood pressure and kidney failure in this population. The results,
released in 2003, showed that an ACE inhibitor was better at slowing
the progression of kidney disease in African Americans than either
of two other drugs.
Hope Through Research
In recent years, researchers have learned a great deal about kidney
disease. NIDDK sponsors several programs aimed at understanding kidney
failure and finding treatments to stop its progression.
NIDDK’s Division of Kidney, Urologic, and Hematologic Diseases supports
basic research into normal kidney function and the diseases that impair
normal function at the cellular and molecular levels, including diabetes,
high blood pressure, glomerulonephritis, and polycystic kidney disease.
For More Information
American Kidney Fund
6110 Executive Boulevard, Suite 1010
Rockville, MD 20852
Phone: 1-800-638-8299 or (301) 881-3052
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Information Center
P.O. Box 30105
Bethesda, MD 20824-0105
Phone: (301) 592-8573
National Kidney Foundation
30 East 33rd Street
New York, NY 10016
Phone: 1-800-622-9010 or (212) 889-2210
National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse
3 Information Way
Bethesda, MD 20892-3580
The National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse
(NKUDIC) is a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive
and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). The NIDDK is part of the National Institutes
of Health under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Established
in 1987, the clearinghouse provides information about diseases of the
kidneys and urologic system to people with kidney and urologic disorders
and to their families, health care professionals, and the public. NKUDIC
answers inquiries, develops and distributes publications, and works
closely with professional and patient organizations and Government
agencies to coordinate resources about kidney and urologic diseases.
Publications produced by the clearinghouse are carefully reviewed
by both NIDDK scientists and outside experts. This fact sheet was reviewed
by Vito M. Campese, M.D., University of Southern California; and Matthew
Weir, M.D., University of Maryland
This e-text is not copyrighted. The clearinghouse encourages users
of this e-pub to duplicate and distribute as many copies as desired.
NIH Publication No. 03-4572