Hypertension & Renal Artery Disease
“Hypertension” is the medical term to describe high blood pressure.
Blood pressure describes the amount of force blood exerts on the artery as it passes, and is commonly denoted by two numbers, such as 120/80, or “120 over 80”. The first number is the maximum pressure, and is known as systolic blood pressure, while the second, the minimum pressure, is called diastolic pressure. The normal range of blood pressure is 120/80. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is typically 140/90 or higher. Blood pressure that is higher than 120/80 but below 140/90 is considered “pre-hypertension,” which is a warning sign that actual hypertension may develop.
Hypertension is a common disorder, with almost 1 in 3 adults in the United States suffering from high blood pressure. Though it is common, it is also dangerous. Hypertension has been known to increase, sometimes significantly, the chances of developing many other ailments, including:
- Heart Attack
- Heart Failure
- Kidney Failure
- Kidney Disease
- Eye Damage
Despite its seriousness, hypertension by itself causes no symptoms, which means that professional medical screenings are even more important to determine blood pressure.
Handling High Blood Pressure
If you are diagnosed with pre-hypertension or hypertension, our office can help craft a treatment plan designed to fit your needs. Depending on your particular case, a treatment regimen for high blood pressure may involve a combination of medication and lifestyle changes. There are many things that are within your own control that can help combat hypertension, including:
- Nutrition and Diet: Taking care of your heart begins with a proper, heart-healthy diet. Pay close attention to the labels on your foods, and look for food rich in potassium and fiber, as well as lean protein foods, like soy, fish, skinless chicken, other very lean meats, and 1% or fat-free milk. You should also ensure that you are drinking plenty of water. When shopping for food or dining, avoid saturated fats, trans fats, overly processed foods, fried foods, excessive salt/sodium, or anything with “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated,”
- Exercise and Weight Loss: Aerobic activity can be very good for the heart. Be sure to put in at least 30 minutes of light exercise every day, but be sure not to stress or strain yourself, as excess stress on the heart can also be damaging. If you are above your optimum weight, losing excess pounds can also help you get high blood pressure under control.
- Salt Intake: Ideally, you should aim for ingesting less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day. Patients trying to limit their salt intake will need to be diligent in watching labels and doing research, as many (if not most) commercially processed and restaurant foods contain a significant amount of sodium, even foods not thought of as “salty.”
- Smoking and Drinking: Quitting smoking and limiting alcohol intake has a wide variety of health benefits, but it is especially important to quit smoking and limit drinking when you have been diagnosed with hypertension.
- Stress: While some everyday stress is unavoidable, reducing your stress and anxiety levels can go a long way toward keeping your hypertension under control. Identifying and avoiding the things that cause stress can help, as well as stress-control techniques, meditation, yoga, etc.
Renal Artery Disease
Like peripheral artery disease in the legs, renal artery disease is caused by a buildup of fat and cholesterol in your arteries, causing a disruption of blood to an organ or body part, in this case, the kidneys. When arterial stiffness and blockages keep blood from flowing to the kidneys, one symptom that can result is severe high blood pressure, or high blood pressure that does not respond to conventional treatment. If you are suffering from a blockage of blood to one or both kidneys and have developed hypertension as a result, treatment options are available, ranging from blood-pressure-lowering medications to surgical procedures, like bypasses and angioplasty.