Updated: 05/12/2014 8:33 PM
Created: 05/12/2014 6:42 PM WNYT.com
By: Benita Zahn
One in four Americans has hypertension - but nearly a third of them don't know it and that can be deadly.
"Hypertension damages that endothelium, not matter what organ you're talking about," says nephrologist, Dr. Asif Arif from Albany Med.
The endothelium is the lining of your blood vessels. When your pressure is elevated it pounds that lining causing physical and chemical changes, making it tougher for blood to reach and nourish your organs. So the key to prevention is knowing what you're up against.
"Awareness." says Dr. Asif Arif, "Are you aware that you have high blood pressure. 2, Do you understand what it means? And third, you you understand that doing some simple maneuvers you could really kind of help a whole lot with this situation."
Simple things, says Dr. Arif, include eating more fruits and veggies, getting 30 minutes of exercise a day - even walking - and limiting sodium consumption -- 2,300 milligrams a day for Caucasians, 1,500 for African Americans - because, for reasons under study, African Americans are more salt sensitive and at higher risk for hypertension. Other risk factors for hypertension include diabetes, smoking, and heavy alcohol consumption.