what causes high blood pressure

(img thanks to cdc.gov)

According to the National Health Statistics Reports for the United States, the single most frequent diagnosis given out by doctors is “Hypertension,” commonly known as high blood pressure. (1)

In 2006, the most recent year for these statistics, over 35 million visits to doctors resulted in a diagnosis of high blood pressure.

In simple terms, high blood pressure is an increase in the pressure within your arteries (your pipeline) over 40/90. This increase in pressure is much like an increase in the pressure within a pipe. The higher the pressure, the harder the pump has to work, and the harder it is to contain that pressure within the pipe.

Therefore high blood pressure is well known to increase your risk for heart disease and heart attack (damage to your pump), and to increase the risk of stroke (blowouts in the pipe). An increase in blood pressure is well recognized to be related to weight gain.
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(image thanks to motherearthliving.com)

Americans consume an estimated $2 billion per year in over-the-counter painkillers like Tylenol, Advil and Motrin.

The most common reason for taking them is for arthritis. However, these drugs are not without side-effects. It also doesn’t take as much as you might think to cause damage. And the variety of side effects includes high blood pressure, stomach ulcers, and other problems.

A study of more than 80,000 women found that women who used acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol, for 22 days or more a month had the greatest risk of high blood pressure, estimated at twice that of non-users. And even those who used the drug as little as one to four days a month had a 22% greater risk of having high blood pressure than non-users.

The risk for those taking NSAIDS (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), including ibuprofen products such as Advil and Motrin and naproxen drugs such as Aleve, was similar. Heavy users had a risk of high blood pressure 86% higher than those who didn’t use the drug. Light users carried a 17% higher risk. (Journal Hypertension November 2002 20(11):2301-2307)

Significantly, researchers report that patients with pre-existing kidney disease who took these painkillers at least twice a week for 2 months were two to three times more likely to have the beginning stages of chronic kidney failure, compared with individuals who did not use these painkillers on a regular basis. (The New England Journal of Medicine December 20, 2001;345:1801-1808)

If you think that you should be taking aspirin to thin your blood, think again. A recent study that investigated the effects of taking low-dose aspirin daily for close to four years found that only participants with compromised kidney function benefited significantly. And another study, in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), showed that fish oils have a blood-thinning effect similar to aspirin. (JAMA. 2001 Jan 17;285(3):304-12)
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