57,356 victims died in 2005 according to The American Heart Association. It is now estimated that 70 million people in the U.S. now have hypertension or high blood pressure. That is about one-fourth of the population. Minorities, such as Puerto Ricans, Cuban Americans, Mexican Americans, and African Americans are said to be at greater risk than others. Men seem to have high blood pressure at younger ages than women, but after age 65, more women have the disease. Sobering information, isn't it?
We are all familiar with that blood pressure cuff at the doctor's office. Your doctor looks at two numbers when checking your blood pressure reading. The systolic pressure (the top number) is the pressure when your heart beats and forces blood around your body. The diastolic pressure (bottom number) is the pressure inside your blood vessels when your heart is resting between beats.
You may or may not have symptoms when your blood pressure is elevated. You may not know that you have high blood pressure until there has been damage to your heart, brain or kidneys. That's why it is very important to have your blood pressure checked regularly and to follow your physician's recommendations.
If you have high blood pressure, your heart works harder to pump blood. When this happens, arteries may become damaged or hemorrhage, which could result in a stroke. Here's a harsh statistic for you - a 2009 update by the American Heart Association states that an American has a stroke about once every 40 seconds!
Can massage help people suffering from high blood pressure? Several recent research studies show promising results. Hernandez-Reif et.al. (2000) felt massage might be helpful in lowering diastolic blood pressure, while a later study by Delaney et.al. (2002) showed a significant decrease in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. The most recent research published in 2006 revealed that Swedish massage has the greatest effect on reducing blood pressure. Unfortunately, the effects are not permanent, but research is still ongoing. In the meantime, if you have high blood pressure, you might want to give Swedish massage a try!
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