Four things to know about hypertension

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a condition that affects 75 million Americans.

Davis Bu, MD, an internal medicine physician at the MelroseWakefield Medical Building at 888 Main St. in Wakefield, treats many patients with hypertension. He offered the following four things to know about hypertension.

  1. What is hypertension? Blood pressure is determined both by the amount of blood your heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries. The more blood your heart pumps and the narrower your arteries, the higher your blood pressure. Over time, the high pressure damages your arteries and can lead to heart attack or stroke.
  2. What are the symptoms? “Hypertension has been called ‘the silent killer,’” said Dr. Bu. “Most people with high blood pressure never even know it because they may never show symptoms. It is estimated that there are probably as many as 12 million people who most likely have hypertension and don’t know it. That is why it is so important to have regularly scheduled wellness visits with your primary care provider.”
  3. What are the risk factors? According to Dr. Bu, there are two sets of risk factors. “Unfortunately, the two most common risk factors – age and genetics – we can’t really do much about.” Other factors that we can control include being overweight, not getting enough exercise, drinking too much alcohol, and having a high-salt diet.
  4. What are the treatments? As Dr. Bu explains, “lifestyle changes are the cornerstone to any therapy.” Losing weight, exercising and bringing moderation to things like salt and alcohol in your diet can make a big difference in minimizing risk for many chronic conditions including hypertension. “Beyond that, there are a number of medications that can be prescribed that can lower blood pressure,” said Dr. Bu. “It is important to have a conversation with your doctor to figure out which ones are the best for you.”

Davis Bu, MD, is an internal medicine physician practicing with Tufts Medical Center Community Care (formerly Hallmark Health Medical Associates) and affiliated with MelroseWakefield Hospital. For more information, call 781-620-4888.

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