By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Hypertension is the most common chronic condition treated by family physicians.

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There is good reason for this: elevated blood pressure is associated with an increased risk of heart failure, myocardial infarction, cerebrovascular disease and death – and treatment of hypertension reduces these risks.

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Medication is not the only option: several lifestyle modifications are associated with improvements in blood pressure, including the diet, sodium restriction, regular exercise, and moderate weight loss.

There is strong evidence that reducing diastolic blood pressure (that is the bottom number when you get your pressure taken) to less than 90 mm hg is beneficial in adults older than 30.

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If medications are necessary, we now have numerous options that can be selected based on age, sex, race and a variety of factors.