High blood pressure or hypertension is one of the greatest causes for many of our health maladies for anyone that lives the typical Western lifestyle. It has been called a silent killer, and because it creeps up on so many people and strikes before they know it most people do not have a clear understanding of its symptoms, which causes it and who actually is at risk. In this article we will address some of the misconceptions that many people have with high blood pressure.

1. A common symptom is headaches and dizziness. These could be indicators for hypertension, but not always. And if they do happen it usually is when the situation has gotten to an advanced stage. Often there are no signs whatever for high blood pressure and the only way to find out for sure if you are safe is to have regular checksups. Healthy adults should be checked a minimum of every two years, and those with cardiovascular disease risk factors even more often.

2. High blood pressure and high cholesterol go hand-in-hand. Elevated levels of cholesterol do not mean automatically that you have high blood pressure. It was once thought that high cholesterol levels directly led to hypertension, but that position is now being questioned in medical circles. What is true however is similar lifestyle habits such as lack of exercise and eating an unhealthy diet can result in a greater risk for both conditions.

3. By cutting back on sodium you will cut back on hypertension. It will unduly help but this alone will probably not alleviate any hypertension issues. The key to sodium's effect on blood pressure is its ratio consumed to potassium. This is a mineral that will help to mitigate sodium's effect, so by decreasing sodium will help; especially if it's done in conjunction with increasing potassium intake. This will be done through increasing the amount of vegetables and fruit you have in your diet.

4. High blood pressure is a man's problem. Although men have more than their share of issues surrounding hypertension, women have even greater factors that put them at a higher risk than men. Birth control pills have long been seen as a trigger, and women are at the most risky time in their lives in their post-menopausal years. In fact, studies show that women are at a 73% greater risk for high blood pressure between the ages of 65 to 74.

5. Only people with obesity issues have high blood pressure. There are people who are overweight and sedentary who have normal blood pressure levels, and there are thin people who develop high blood pressure. Even though overweight is a strong risk factor, there are others such as family history, race and gender which can also factor in.

Considering the fact that hypertension is such a health risk to not only Americans but people around the world it is vital to have a better understanding of not only how to control it, but how to determine if you are at risk. Since there are no universal telltale signs it's something we have to be continuously vigilant about. I know for me personally I have mine checked regularly and 90% of the time it's in good to normal ranges. But for some reason there will be the odd time where it jumps up to borderline critical. We all should just keep an eye on it, have a lifestyle that is active and eat a good diet, and those things should keep you on the safe side.