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A blood pressure gauge, stethoscope and a red plastic heart

Everyone talks a lot about high blood pressure, but do you really know what it is, what’s wrong with having it, and what surprising everyday health habit may actually make it worse?

What Does Having High Blood Pressure Mean?

According to Mayo Clinic, high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a common condition in which the force of the blood against your artery walls is high enough that it may eventually cause health problems, such as heart disease.

Blood pressure is determined 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.

What’s Wrong With Having High Blood Pressure?

Again, if the force of blood against your artery walls is high enough, it can eventually lead to health problems. Mayo Clinic experts say that just some of the conditions connected to high blood pressure include:

• Aneurysm
• Stroke
• Heart Failure
• Dementia,
• Kidney Failure
• Nerve Damage
• Sexual Dysfunction

According to Mayo Clinic, you can have high blood pressure (hypertension) for years without any symptoms. However, hypertension can damage various parts of your body, including blood vessels and your heart – all without symptoms.

The Surprising Thing That Can Make Hypertension Worse

According to Mayo Clinic, if you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure, you need to re-think the supplements you’re taking.

Why?

While supplements may be labeled “natural” and don’t generally need a prescription, they can affect the body in many ways. Supplements can interact with medications, change the body ‘s metabolism and cause side effects.

With high blood pressure, supplements on your caution list should include:

• St. John ‘s wort: Used to treat depression, St. John ‘s wort speeds up the metabolism of a number of medications. The blood pressure medication you take could be metabolized so quickly that it loses its effectiveness. The result could be an increase in blood pressure.

• Echinacea: Although echinacea is considered helpful for reducing cold and flu symptoms, some evidence indicates that it also changes how medications are metabolized.

• Ginseng: Preliminary evidence suggests that ginseng may lower blood sugar, decrease fatigue or boost the immune system. It also may raise or lower blood pressure. Ginseng is best avoided by patients with high or low blood pressure concerns.

Before taking any supplement, it’s always advisable to talk with your doctor about how the supplement may affect you.

For more information on hypertension, visit Mayo Clinic’s website at www.mayoclinic.org.

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