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High Blood Pressure in Men

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Why should I care about high blood pressure in men? continued...

In some patients, high blood pressure is related to other medical problems or can be a side effect of certain drugs. This form of the disease is called secondary hypertension, because it happens secondary to other medical conditions.

High blood pressure is usually diagnosed using the familiar blood pressure test that involves a cuff wrapped around the upper arm. The cuff is inflated and then sensors measure the pressure of blood beating against the arteries.

Blood pressure is measured using two numbers -- systolic and diastolic pressure. Systolic, the upper number, is the pressure when the heart is beating. Diastolic, the lower number, is the pressure between beats. Normal blood pressure is considered to be anything below 120/80. Prehypertension is defined as a systolic reading between 120 and 139 and a diastolic reading between 80 and 89. Hypertension is defined as blood pressure of 140/90 or higher. For people with diabetes or chronic kidney disease, hypertension is defined as 130/80 and for people over age 60, high blood pressure is defined as 150/90 or higher.

How can I prevent high blood pressure?

To prevent high blood pressure, first consider your diet. A healthy diet can go a long way toward preventing high blood pressure. Trying following the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension eating plan, also known as the DASH diet, which emphasizes plenty of fruits and vegetables and low-fat or nonfat dairy products. Studies conducted by the National Institutes of Health have shown that the DASH diet can lower blood pressure. And the results show up fast -- often within two weeks.

At the same time, cut down on salt (sodium chloride), which can raise blood pressure. The National High Blood Pressure Education Program recommends no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day. The ideal is even lower -- only 1,500. For the average man, who consumes about 4,200 milligrams a day, that requires a big change. But studies show that the lower your salt intake, the lower your blood pressure.

Along with a healthier diet, it is smart to be as active as possible to prevent high blood pressure. Researchers at the University of Minnesota published results from a study of almost 4,000 people between the ages of 15 and 30 who were followed over time. The more active they were, the lower their risk of developing hypertension.

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