May 18, 2006
Contact: Tom Capezzuto
Kidney Specialist Warns of Dangers Associated with High Blood Pressure
NEWARK—High blood pressure, or hypertension, is known as a silent killer because of its link to fatal strokes and heart attacks, but it also often contributes to kidney failure, says a nephrologist at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.
Treating hypertension with minimal effect on the quality of life can save lives, particularly in inner-city communities where more people are adversely affected by poor diets and stressful lifestyles, says Dr. Leonard G. Meggs, director of the Department of Nephrology at the UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School in Newark.
May is National High Blood Pressure Month.
"Those who have high blood pressure are not only risk a greater incidence of strokes and heart attacks, they also cause kidney damage because the small blood vessels of the kidneys are especially vulnerable to hypertensive injury," said Dr. Meggs.
He advises those who have a family history of high blood pressure or are overweight to check frequently for hypertension and to obtain medication if it is too high. Dietary restrictions, which include limiting the use of salt, will also help reduce blood pressure.
Knowing your blood pressure is important, Dr. Meggs noted. The upper number is the systolic, the pressure the heart pumps against. The lower number is the diastolic blood pressure, which is the pressure during the relaxation phase of the heart cycle, when the heart muscle receives its blood supply. The upper limit for normalcy for the systolic reading is 139; the upper limit of normal for the diagnostic reading is 89. If you are diabetic or have kidney disease, the guidelines would be 129 over 79.
Maintaining proper weight proportionate to size is an important factor for controlling blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, it can be controlled by weight loss and medication prescribed by a physician, although sometimes minor side effects may occur, requiring a change in medication or its dosage. Maintaining normal readings consistently will significantly reduce the risk of kidney failure, stroke or heart disease.
"Many minorities, particularly African-Americans, are prone to hypertension and are candidates for heart attacks or strokes," Dr. Meggs said. "It can be avoided if you exercise and watch your diet, or in some instances take medication to help control high blood pressure."