WHAT IS BLOOD PRESSURE: Blood pressure is made up of two measures, the force in the arteries when the heart beats and when the heart is at rest. When blood pressure is high, there is an increased risk of heart disease (which leads to heart attack) and stroke. It is most common in adults over age 35, and is especially prevalent in African Americans, the middle-aged and elderly, obese people, heavy drinkers, and women who are taking birth control pills. Those with diabetes, gout or kidney disease are also prone to suffer from high blood pressure. Reducing blood pressure is associated with lowering the risk of stroke, heart attack, heart failure and kidney disease. Lowering salt intake is one of several steps that can contribute to lowering blood pressure.
ABOUT THE KIDNEYS: The kidneys are major organs with the function to remove waste products and excess fluid from the body via the production of urine. In the process, they also regulate the body's salt, potassium and acid content, and produce hormones that affect the function of other organs, such as red blood cell production, or regulating blood pressure. There are two kidneys, each the size of a fist, located on either side of the spine at the bottom of the rib cage. Each kidney is made up of as many as a million functioning units called nephrons: a filtering unit of tiny blood vessels attached to a tubule. When blood enters the vessels in the nephrons, it is filtered and the remaining fluid passes through the tubule, where chemicals and water are either added or subtracted -- depending on the body's need at the time -- to eventually produce urine. The kidneys process about 200 quarts of fluid every 24 hours.