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High Blood Pressure: A Silent Killer in America

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey estimates that about 30 percent of U.S. adults have high blood pressure, or hypertension. This includes 8 percent who have not been officially diagnosed by a medical provider.

Experts predict the number of Americans with hypertension will climb as our population ages and obesity rates increase. Obesity, or even being overweight, is a major contributor to the development of high blood pressure—especially when combined with a poor diet and lack of exercise.

Genetic factors, such as having a parent or sibling with high blood pressure, can raise your risk. Diets high in processed foods, salt, and excessive amounts of refined sugars can also contribute to high blood pressure. So can the use of tobacco products, such as cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and e-cigarettes.

Despite our awareness of this disease and the multiple treatment options available, it is estimated that only half of people with high blood pressure have it under control (defined as having a blood pressure level below 140/90).

High blood pressure may not have easily recognizable symptoms. But it still requires medical care and treatment. If your blood pressure is often reading above 140/90, you should visit a health care provider.

Tips to reduce blood pressure:
 - Eat more fruits and vegetables.
 - Exercise daily. Simply taking a walk for 30 minutes a day, five days a week on one of the many walking paths around Lake Tahoe can reduce your blood pressure.
 - Manage stress in your life.
 - Try yoga or other light forms of exercise.

High blood pressure can easily be treated. If you require medication, there are very few side effects. Develop a relationship with your healthcare provider and discuss what treatment options are best for you. 

For more information on how to lower your blood pressure, visit Barton's online Wellness Resource Library at bartonhealth.org/healthlibrary.
Dr. Steve Brooks is a board certified family medicine physician. To make an appointment with Dr. Brooks, call Barton Family Practice at 775.589.8900.