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Benign hypertension is a medical term used to describe a form of high blood pressure that tends to develop slowly and may not cause any noticeable symptoms for a number of years. Due to the slow progression of this disease, it is difficult to diagnose and may cause gradual damage to various organs of the body. Mild symptoms, such as headache or nausea, may be present before this condition is diagnosed, but these symptoms are often explained away as having some other cause. Once benign hypertension is diagnosed, treatment usually consists of a combination of dietary changes, lifestyle modification, and perhaps the use of prescription medications.
Due to the difficulty in diagnosing benign hypertension, prevention is the best course of action. Eating a healthy diet and maintaining an ideal weight are critical in preventing high blood pressure. A moderate exercise program is generally recommended for those who are healthy enough to exercise. Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption should be avoided in those at risk of developing benign hypertension. Regular doctor visits can also help to detect any patterns of increasing blood pressure levels so that medications can be prescribed before any serious damage occurs to the heart or other organs of the body.
Those with a family history of high blood pressure should be especially diligent in maintaining healthy blood pressure levels. Patients with certain medical conditions, such as kidney disease, may be prescribed medications aimed at regulating blood pressure, even if benign hypertension has not been diagnosed. It is usually recommended that a healthy person has blood pressure levels checked at least once per year.
Eventually, benign hypertension almost always leads to a condition known as malignant hypertension. This means that the blood pressure becomes noticeably high, and organ damage may begin to become apparent. When this occurs, prescription medications may be given in addition to the recommended dietary and lifestyle changes. In some cases, these medications may be discontinued after the patient adopts a healthier lifestyle. In other situations, these drugs may have to be taken for the life of the patient.
The chief dangers of high blood pressure are the increased risks of having a heart attack or a stroke. Both of these conditions can be potentially fatal and are often completely preventable. A simple trip to a doctor can help assess individual risks of developing benign hypertension, and a treatment plan can be devised based on individual needs.