Hypertension, otherwise known as high blood pressure, is defined increased pressure within the blood vessels of an individual. The result of hypertension is a greater workload of the heart muscle necessary to maintain the flow of blood throughout the body, leading to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and heart attack. Millions of people in the developing world suffer from hypertension. The causes of the condition are related to both genetic and lifestyle factors. A person may be predisposed to high blood pressure, but never develop the condition because he or she maintains healthy diet and exercise habits. Also, a person who is not particularly genetically prone to develop hypertension may develop it if his or her health habits are less than ideal.

Hypertension is typically regarded as one of the conditions most preventable, treatable, and predictive of future morbidity and mortality. It can often be prevented altogether through healthy diet, exercise, and stress reduction techniques. If present, it can frequently be reversed through the implementation of a low sodium diet and a strict diet and exercise program. In cases when a patient does not respond to the above treatment measures, medications can be prescribed to open the arteries and ease the work of the heart. Individuals who keep their blood pressure in check experience an immediate reduction in their risk of heart attack, stroke, and other complications such as kidney disease. Normal blood pressure depends on the age and gender of an individual and can vary wildly within only a matter of minutes. Women typically have lower values than men. Generally speaking, any adult with blood pressure above 130 / 90 is considered to have hypertension. Numbers significantly above this amount can be immediately life threatening and predictive of a poor short term prognosis.  It is recommended that all adults check their blood pressure at least several times a year and report the trends to their medical providers. Doing so saves lives.

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