Quiz yourself on your knowledge of high blood pressure by answering "true" or "false" to the following statements.
T/F: Symptoms of high blood pressure (hypertension) include dizziness and headaches.
False. In rare cases, people with early-stage hypertension may experience dull headaches or dizzy spells. But these symptoms typically don't occur until hypertension has reached an advanced stage—if they appear at all. Most people with high blood pressure have no signs or symptoms, even when blood pressure readings reach dangerously high levels. The only way to know if your blood pressure is high is to have it checked: experts recommend screenings every two years for healthy adults aged 21 or older, and more often for those with additional risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
T/F: Only people who are overweight get hypertension.
False. People who are slim and fit can develop high blood pressure. On the flip side, people who are overweight and sedentary may have "normal" blood pressure. Being overweight is a strong risk factor for hypertension, but it’s not the only one. Others include family history and race. (African-Americans, for example, are particularly susceptible to hypertension.) Certain medications—including oral contraceptives, decongestants and over-the-counter pain relievers—appear to increase blood pressure in some people.
T/F: If you have high cholesterol, you automatically have high blood pressure.
False. High cholesterol doesn’t automatically lead to high blood pressure, but many of the same lifestyle habits—including eating too much saturated and trans fats, getting too little exercise and over-consuming alcoholic beverages—are associated with increased risk for both conditions.
T/F: High blood pressure is a man’s problem.
False. High blood pressure is an equal-opportunity offender and, in fact, hormone-related factors may put some women at a greater risk. For example, some oral contraceptives can contribute to the development of high blood pressure, particularly for women who smoke or are overweight. Pregnancy increases the chance of high blood pressure. Women are more likely to develop high blood pressure after menopause: research indicates that estrogen may play a role in maintaining a healthy blood pressure.
T/F: Cutting back on sodium is the only dietary move you can make to reduce blood pressure.
False. Limiting sodium intake is a key strategy for reducing blood pressure, but it’s not the only one. Studies show that a diet that includes lots of fruits and vegetables and healthy amounts of low-fat dairy may help reduce blood pressure too. One probable reason why: fruits, vegetables and dairy products generally are good sources of potassium, a mineral that helps mitigate sodium’s effects on blood pressure.
The content presented is for informational purposes and is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice.