Blood Pressure:

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One place men don't want high scores

By Robert Villanueva

By ROBERT VILLANUEVA rvillanueva@thenewsenterprise.com High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, has been called “the silent killer,” and men of a certain age group should take note that they are, more often than not, the ones in the crosshairs. “Until the age of 45, more men than women are affected by high blood pressure or hypertension,” Karen Blaiklock, Hardin Memorial Hospital community/industry education manager, said. In general, about 20 percent of the people living in the United States have hypertension, Blaiklock said. About a third of those people don’t know they have it. Many factors come into play when it comes to high blood pressure: heredity, race and obesity to name a few. “Hypertension is significantly more common in African-Americans of both sexes than any other racial or ethnic group,” Blaiklock said. Also, high blood pressure occurs most often in people older than 35, according to The American Heart Association. Men age 35 to 45, then, have a higher risk than women in the same age group to have high blood pressure. Though The American Heart Association states that medical science doesn’t understand what causes most cases of high blood pressure, some risk factors are worth being aware of. Heavy alcohol consumption, inactivity, salt sensitivity, stress and obesity are factors that can be controlled. By reducing alcohol, stress and salt consumption, increasing physical activity and maintaining a desirable weight, men can reduce their risk for developing high blood pressure. Additionally, men should avoid smoking. Preventing high blood pressure is a matter of “looking at your lifestyle and making changes,” Blaiklock said. Men who have been found to have high blood pressure likely will be asked to make those lifestyle changes first. “Active participation in taking care of their condition” is important in treating high blood pressure, Blaiklock said. Getting regular blood pressure checks can be important, too. Men should consult with their physicians and find out when and how often to get check-ups. Before getting a blood pressure check, people should avoid strenuous exercise, avoid smoking, eating or drinking coffee at least an hour prior, should be seated at least five minutes and should avoid talking, Blaiklock said. The Web site www.emedicinehealth.com cites a number of health complications that can result from high blood pressure. These include heart disease, heart attack, congestive heart failure, stroke, kidney failure, peripheral artery disease and aortic aneurysms. While some people with high blood pressure experience symptoms, the symptoms are usually mild and non-specific, according to www.emedicinehealth.com. Some of those symptoms can include vision problems, dizziness, fatigue, headache and ringing in the ears, Blaiklock said. “The symptoms don’t generally appear until the disease has caused damage to vital organs,” she said. Because of this, finding out about high blood pressure often comes too late. The key to battling high blood pressure: preventing it in the first place. Robert Villanueva can be reached at (270) 505-1743.