May 17, Wednesday, is World Hypertension Day, which was started by the World Hypertension League —an affiliate of the International Society of Hypertension. The day became an annual event from May 2005 to promote awareness about hypertension, which is also known as high blood pressure.

Hypertension is a common condition affecting several people across the world. Although high blood pressure — also called a “silent killer” — often has no symptoms, it can prove dangerous by increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney problems and other debilitating problems.

Read: Millions Of Americans At Risk After Not Taking Prescribed Drugs For High Blood Pressure

In the U.S., every one in three adults has hypertension, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This means that the condition affects about 75 million adults (29 percent), the CDC stated. Only about half of those suffering from high blood pressure have the condition under control. According to the center, high blood pressure costs $46 billion every year to the U.S.

Hypertension cannot be diagnosed in one visit to the doctor and requires several trips to the clinic to confirm a person suffers from it.

Once diagnosed, the doctor may suggest making lifestyle changes such as limiting salt intake, moderation of alcohol, and stress reduction. Your doctor may also prescribe you one or more drugs of several classes for the condition.

Blood pressure levels fluctuate throughout the day. It lowers while sleeping and increases when a person wakes up. A bout of hypertension is a normal physiological response to several situations.

However, according to the American Heart Association, a systolic reading of 180 mmHg or higher or a diastolic reading of 110 mmHg or higher is a sign of hypertensive crisis, which requires medical attention. A normal blood pressure is less than 120 mmHg in systolic reading and less than 80 mmHg in diastolic reading. In a blood pressure reading, the systolic pressure is generally the first number recorded, while the diastolic reading — or the bottom number — is the pressure when the heart rests between beats.

Following are symptoms of hypertension:

  • Severe headache
  • Fatigue
  • Problem in vision
  • Chest pain
  • Problem breathing
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Blood in the urine
  • Pounding in the chest, neck, or ears

Lifestyle factors that contribute to hypertension are as follows:

  • Physical inactivity
  • Diet rich in salt, consumption of processed and fatty foods
  • Alcohol and tobacco use

However, blood pressure can be kept within a healthy range with the following methods:

  • Checking blood pressure on a regular basis
  • Eating healthy
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Exercise
  • Restricting alcohol and smoking
  • Not smoking
  • Preventing or treating diabetes

Following are some healthy foods to include in your diet:

  • Apples, bananas, and oranges
  • Broccoli and carrots
  • Legumes
  • Fish rich in omega-3 fatty oils

Avoid these:

  • Sugary drinks
  • Red meat