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As oxidative stress might be an important part of
many human diseases, the use of antioxidants in pharmacology is
intensively studied, particularly as treatments for stroke and
neurodegenerative diseases. However, it is unknown whether oxidative
stress is the cause or the consequence of disease. Antioxidants are
also widely used as ingredients in dietary supplements in the hope
of maintaining health and preventing diseases such as cancer and
coronary heart disease. Although some studies have suggested
antioxidant supplements have health benefits, other large clinical
trials did not detect any benefit for the formulations tested, and
excess supplementation may occasionally be harmful. In addition to
these uses in medicine, antioxidants have many industrial uses, such
as preservatives in food and cosmetics and preventing the
degradation of rubber and gasoline.
Arterial pressure exceeding normal values is called arterial hypertension. In itself it is only an acute problem; see hypertensive emergency. But because of its long-term indirect effects (and also as an indicator of other problems) it is a serious worry to physicians diagnosing it.
All levels of arterial pressure put mechanical stress on the arterial walls. Higher pressures increase heart workload and progression of unhealthy tissue growth (atheroma) that develops within the walls of arteries. The higher the pressure, the more stress that is present and the more atheroma tend to progress and the heart muscle tends to thicken, enlarge and become weaker over time.
Persistent hypertension is one of the risk factors for strokes, heart attacks, heart failure, arterial aneurysms, and is the leading cause of chronic renal failure. Even moderate elevation of arterial pressure leads to shortened life expectancy. At severely high pressures, mean arterial pressures 50% or more above average, a person can expect to live no more than a few years unless appropriately treated.
In the past, most attention was paid to diastolic pressure; but nowadays it is recognised that both high systolic pressure and high pulse pressure (the numerical difference between systolic and diastolic pressures) are also risk factors. In some cases, it appears that a decrease in excessive diastolic pressure can actually increase risk, due probably to the increased difference between systolic and diastolic pressures (see the article on pulse pressure).
Low arterial pressure
Blood pressure that is too low is known as hypotension. The similarity in pronunciation with hypertension can cause confusion.
Low arterial pressure may be a sign of severe disease and requires urgent medical attention.
When arterial pressure and blood flow decrease beyond a certain point, the perfusion of the brain becomes critically decreased (i.e., the blood supply is not sufficient), causing lightheadedness, dizziness, weakness and fainting.
However, people who function well, while maintaining low arterial pressures have lower rates of cardiovascular disease events than people with normal arterial pressures.Influential factors
The physics of the circulatory system, as of any fluid system, are very complex. That said, there are many physical factors that influence arterial pressure. Each of these may in turn be influenced by physiological factors, such as diet, exercise, disease, drugs or alcohol, obesity, excess weight and so-forth.
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