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Common questions about blood pressure are answered by McDuffie Regional doctors

Experts estimate that 1/3 of all American have high blood pressure. Many people are unaware that they have high blood pressure. The medical term for high blood pressure is hypertension. It can be treated, and possibly even prevented, if caught early enough.

  • What is a normal blood pressure? Most people have their blood pressure taken when they go in for a check-up every few years. But if a person's blood pressure rises above 140/90, more frequent readings are needed. Even if a person's blood pressure is "normal" and they are an adult, physicians recommend that it be checked yearly.

  • Will being tense or nervous give you high blood pressure? The term hypertension refers to elevated blood pressure in the arteries, not someone's personality. Many calm, cool-headed people have hypertension. Many anxious, jittery, people have perfectly normal blood pressures. Nervousness may cause a short rise in blood pressure, because of the adrenaline response. But there is no evidence that a nervous personality causes high blood pressure. A person's blood pressure is variable. It can fluctuate as much as 20 to 30 points a day. It is lowest during sleep and restful times.

  • Can a person's blood pressure change with the weather? Generally, a person's blood pressure drops slightly during hot weather when they tend to perspire more. Warm weather causes blood vessels to dilate, and that lowers blood pressure. In cold weather, blood pressure readings may be raised, because blood vessels constrict. Unless weather conditions are extreme; however, these changes are minimal.

  • Will excessive alcohol consumption increase my blood pressure? Moderate to heavy drinking, 3-5 drinks daily can raise your blood pressure. Cutting back on alcohol can bring blood pressure to within normal range in some individuals.

  • Will exercise raise a person's blood pressure? The answer to this question is "sometimes." Vigorous isometric exercises like lifting weights generally should be avoided for anyone with high blood pressure or heart disease. The muscles tighten during this act and constrict blood vessels and can raise blood pressure to dangerous heights. Walking, jogging, bicycling, swimming of other aerobic exercises are generally recommended for people with hypertension. As a matter of fact, aerobic exercise is one of the treatments often recommended by doctors for mild to moderate hypertension.

  • Will losing weight lower a person's blood pressure? If a person is significantly overweight, reducing the weight closer to their ideal body weight will significantly affect their blood pressure. Excess weight increases the volume of blood in the body constricting blood vessels and putting extra demands on the heart which elevates blood pressure. In some cases, losing as little as 10 pounds can make a significant impact on blood pressure.

    Web posted on Thursday, February 08, 2007

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