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How serious is hypertension really?

My doc yesterday said my weight put me at risk for hypertension and that this could lead to a heart attack, which is common in women. I'm curious if any of you have heard the same thing from their doc, and how worried should I really be. I tend to be a skeptic when it comes to alarmists.

Wed. May 23, 2:32pm

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Hypertension can lead not only to heart attack, but to stroke. It's called the silent killer for a reason. You don't FEEL like there is anything wrong with you, right up to the point where you blow a gasket. Exercise, weight loss, yoga, stress reduction, garlic, cinammon.. the list goes on with ways to help keep your numbers where they need to be to stay healthy. Don't buy into alarmist hype, just keep yourself as healthy as possible. If your doc is recommending medication for borderline hypertension, it would be my opinion that you're better off trying the tactics listed above to correct the situation before resorting to medication. Less undesirable side effects.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007, 3:01 PM

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if your doc was alarming you to scare you into taking action to avoid hypertension, that is a great thing. I have it and need medication to keep it under control. It was still borderline high with the medication up to about 5 pounds ago. But with steady weight loss and increased exercise the blood pressure has come down - I hope I can some day come off the medication. I just wish I would have taken it seriously and taken action BEFORE it became a problem for me. At least I'm doing something about it now. Better late than TOO late!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007, 4:55 PM

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4:55 how much weight do you have to lose?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007, 4:59 PM

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Why would you choose not to believe your Dr? Just because you don't want to lose weight??? I'm sorry I'm normally not this harsh but I think it's pretty pathetic you are looking for ways to justify hypertension being 'not that bad' for you versus just working to lose the weight.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007, 5:29 PM

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I hate to agree with 5:29, but that was my first thought after reading the original post. Well, except I thought "make the necessary changes" not just "lose weight", since doing things like limiting salt or quitting smoking or walking an hour a day might be the things the OP doesn't want to do.

My obese father had it, ignored it, lived a few years and died from a stroke before 60. Go ahead and roll the dice if you like those odds.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007, 6:32 PM

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3:01 is absolutely right! I'm a nurse. Take your doctor seriously...and thank him or her for saving you from a life of either living with a severe handicap (from a stroke) or from no longer having a life at all! No alarms, just science.
PS: smoking greatly increases this risk!!!!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007, 7:10 PM

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Hypertension is a bad bad thing-It can lead to kidney damage, stroke, heart disease, heart attacks and a bunch of other SERIOUS problems. Listen to your doc, do what you have to do to get it under control.

I was diagnosed w/ HBP this past year at 28 years old and I am at a healthy weight, eat a low sodium and healthy diet, and exercise 5-6 days a week. MY doctor sent me for a bunch of tests to make sure I hadn't damaged my kidneys or heart since they weren't sure how long my blood pressure had been high and that scared the crap out of me. dialysis? kidney failure? eek. Luckily everything looks healthy-and I am so grateful! In my case it's genetics (mother, aunt and sisters all had/have it)-and I had to go onto medication for it. I'm not happy about it, but I realized that all these things I do for my health (exercise/diet/yoga etc) are only part of the equation. If I want to live a long, healthy and happy life I need to keep my blood pressure normal and for me the medication was the answer.

Take care of yourself-your doctor wasn't trying to scare you to be a jerk, hypertension really is something to worry about but for most people there are natural ways to lower it! Good luck!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007, 10:08 PM

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Yes, hypertension is a big deal, doctors started getting blood pressure readings along with the other vital signs because one does not know they have it without the equipment because there is no other real sign or symptom of high blood pressure. hypertension can be a risk factor for cardiovascular disease which is the leading cause of death in America. Exercise, good diet, lots of fruits and vegetables have potassium which is inversely related to sodium and lowers bp some. Also smoking cessation and decreasing caffeine can help. Good luck and make sure you keep up with the bp testing. Wal mart has a bp reading for free next to their pharmacies if you can't afford one to buy.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007, 11:48 PM

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When you have high blood pressure, it causes the small arteries to develop thicker walls. This reduces the blood flow to the tissues, which then tell the brain/ heart to increase pressure to get the flow back up. Normal blood pressure is 120/ 80 (and lately recommended to be even lower in some people). People with uncontrolled/ undetected hypertension can have values near 300. This can cause the blood vessels, especially capillaries which are tubes lined with a single layer of cells, to break. The organs where there are a lot of capillaries - brain, heart, eyes, kidneys - are especially vulnerable, and the symptoms are strokes, heart attacks, blindness, and kidney failure. Most of the time doctors cannot figure out why a person has high blood pressure. Some are genetic like the previous poster has. About 30% of people with high blood pressure retain fluid when they eat salt, and like an over-filled balloon, develop high blood pressure. A lot of hypertension will go away with exercise and weight control, although it's not really known why. Please take your doctor's advice, and consider yourself lucky it was found before it did damage.

Thursday, May 24, 2007, 12:01 AM

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I agree with the previous poster. You need to take hypertension very seriously. Going on meds is another issue. If you are overweight, first start by losing some weight. If your weight is ok but you don't exercise. MOVE. I have lots of risk factors for heart disease (genetic) but my b/p is normal. Why? I exercise...swim, walk, elliptical, power yoga. I do something (or a combination of things) every day.

If you are eating well and exercising and STILL have high blood pressure you should consider some sort of intervention whether it comes from medication or an alternative therapy. Lots of success with high blood pressure and accupuncture. But do something.

Thursday, May 24, 2007, 8:44 AM

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I'm a paramedic and I run calls on people with hypertension all the time. Stroke and heart attack are the leading killers of adults in this country and both are related to high blood pressure.

Exercise and improving your diet (i.e. reduce sodium intake, etc) go a long way in helping to control hypertension. Also, learning stress control techniques like meditation helps to calm you and lower your blood pressure.

Take your doctor's warning seriously.

Thursday, May 24, 2007, 8:56 AM

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hypertension can go away

weight reduction, exercise, increase water intake, more potassium rich food, etc etc.

Monday, September 10, 2007, 1:04 PM

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Yeah, but not always-it's often genetic too!

Monday, September 10, 2007, 2:24 PM

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i don't get how you can equate a doctor's diagnosis with an alarmist's opinion...he evaluated you and told you what was up. just because the consequences of ignoring your health issues are dire doesn't mean they're not true or common knowledge.

Monday, September 10, 2007, 2:40 PM

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I am reading this and noting how everyone mentions a heart attack and a stroke. I am a Hemodialysis nurse and I can tell you that hypertension is the second most common cause of kidney failure (after diabetes). If you have weight issues that almost doubles your risk. Also in reading the post 1:04 from today you have to be VERY CAREFUL with high potassium foods.. if you have ANY form of kidney failure or if you are on certain potassium sparing medications ( Monopril is one) you should be VEYR CAREFUL and talk with your doctor or pharmacist about eating foods high in potassium and salt substitutes ( which are very high in potassium).. If your doctor told you that you have or at greater risk for high blood pressure you should heed his warning. But you don't have to take my word on it ... but you can read this article

Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to:

Damage to your arteries. This can result in hardening and thickening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), which can lead to a heart attack or other complications. An enlarged, bulging blood vessel (aneurysm) also is possible.
Heart failure. To pump blood against the higher pressure in your vessels, your heart muscle thickens. Eventually, the thickened muscle may have a hard time pumping enough blood to meet your body's needs, which can lead to heart failure.
A blocked or ruptured blood vessel in your brain. This can lead to stroke.
Weakened and narrowed blood vessels in your kidneys. This can prevent these organs from functioning normally.
Thickened, narrowed or torn blood vessels in the eyes. This can result in vision loss.
Metabolic syndrome. This syndrome is a cluster of disorders of your body's metabolism — including elevated waist circumference, high triglycerides, low high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or "good," cholesterol, high blood pressure and high insulin levels. If you have high blood pressure, you're more likely to have other components of metabolic syndrome. The more components you have, the greater your risk of developing diabetes, heart disease or stroke.
Uncontrolled high blood pressure also may affect your ability to think, remember and learn. Cognitive impairment and dementia are more common in people who have high blood pressure.
Blood pressure is measured with an inflatable arm cuff and a pressure-measuring gauge. A blood pressure reading, given in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg), has two numbers. The first, or upper, number measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats (systolic pressure). The second, or lower, number measures the pressure in your arteries between beats (diastolic pressure).

The latest blood pressure guidelines, issued in 2003 by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, divide blood pressure measurements into four general categories:

Normal blood pressure. Your blood pressure is normal if it's below 120/80 mm Hg — but some data indicate that 115/75 mm Hg should be the gold standard. Once blood pressure rises above 115/75 mm Hg, the risk of cardiovascular disease begins to increase.
Prehypertension. Prehypertension is a systolic pressure ranging from 120 to 139 or a diastolic pressure ranging from 80 to 89. Prehypertension tends to get worse over time. Within four years of being diagnosed with prehypertension, nearly one in three adults ages 35 to 64 and nearly one in two adults age 65 or older progress to definite high blood pressure.
Stage 1 hypertension. Stage 1 hypertension is a systolic pressure ranging from 140 to 159 or a diastolic pressure ranging from 90 to 99.
Stage 2 hypertension. The most severe hypertension, stage 2 hypertension is a systolic pressure of 160 or higher or a diastolic pressure of 100 or higher.
Both numbers in a blood pressure reading are important. But after age 50, the systolic reading is even more significant. Isolated systolic hypertension (ISH) — when diastolic pressure is normal but systolic pressure is high — is the most common type of high blood pressure among people older than 50.

A single high blood pressure reading usually isn't enough for a diagnosis. Because blood pressure normally varies throughout the day — and sometimes specifically during visits to the doctor — diagnosis is based on more than one reading taken on more than one occasion. Your doctor may ask you to record your blood pressure at home and at work to provide additional information.

If you have any type of high blood pressure, your doctor may recommend routine tests, such as a urine test (urinalysis), blood tests and an electrocardiogram (ECG) — a test that measures your heart's electrical activity. More extensive testing isn't usually needed.

Excessive pressure on the artery walls can damage your vital organs. The higher your blood pressure and the longer it goes uncontrolled, the greater the damage.

Monday, September 10, 2007, 6:28 PM

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from what publication is this article taken? what year was it published? can you provide a link to the original source? i think there is more credibility associated with an article when source information is also provided. thanks!! i see where you posted that the guidelines come from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, but i am curious about the article above that.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007, 9:47 AM

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Here ya go:

If you don't believe what I've posted then google it? But I hate to tell ya ...your doc isn't trying to be an " alarmist" he is simply doing HIS JOB in advising you of complications which CAN and DO arise from hypertension!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007, 12:03 PM

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if your doctor told you that you were at risk of hypertension and to alleviate that risk you had to wear blue shoes everyday, would you do it? is it the diagnosis that is bothering you or is it the treatment options that bother you? haven't you ever before heard about hypertension and heart diseas among overweight people, especially women??????!!!!! how is this "alarming" news to you? have you always received a clean bill-of-health prior to this visit? what changed, if you did?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007, 12:49 PM

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Just a thought, but I think a lot of people think their doctors are "alarmists" because for overweight people (it seems) that no matter what you go to the doctor for, they always somehow turn it into a weight issue - even if it's not. They always go for the "lose some weight" diaognosis first when they see an overweight person coming; whereas if it were a thin person they may try another avenue.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007, 6:18 PM

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618, I believe you have somewhat of a point.. however it depends on WHAT the chief complaint of the person coming in to the doctor is to begin with. If an overweight person comes in with a complaint of a rash you doctor shouldn't conclude the rash itself is weight related however if during an exam to find out the cause of a rash your doctor discovers high blood pressure then yes he has an obligation to tell you.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007, 6:37 PM

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