The most dangerous thing about high blood pressure is captured in its moniker: the silent killer. That’s because many people don’t even realize they have this life-threatening disease.

According to Michael Ruddy, M.D., FACP, high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is the single leading risk factor for the most common causes of death in the United States. More than a million heart attacks and 600,000+ strokes each year can be attributed to high blood pressure.

“A simple, yearly physical which includes a blood pressure check is important in identifying people at risk,” Dr. Ruddy said. “In general, blood pressure greater than 140/90 is cause for concern, particularly for cardiovascular diseases.”

Dr. Ruddy and his colleagues at Princeton Hypertension-Nephrology Associates specialize in hypertension and kidney disorders. They see patients who are having difficulty with their treatments or tolerating medication, as well as those who are not sure if they need treatment.

“Our mission is to provide the highest level of care for patients with kidney disorders and elevated blood pressure,” he added. “Sometimes, that means monitoring a patient who may have high blood pressure to rule out `white coat hypertension’ or other issues.”

For some people, anxiety or stress causes the blood pressure to rise only in the medical office setting. This so-called “white coat” hypertension can usually be suspected by finding normal blood pressure values at home. A conclusive diagnosis is made by using a special monitoring device that that measures blood pressure and heart rate during a full 24-hour period, even while sleeping.

“We want to make sure patients aren’t being over treated,” Dr. Ruddy noted. “In general, about 30 percent of the U.S. population has chronic high blood pressure. Also, as we age, blood pressure increases, especially the systolic or top number.”

In addition to heart issues, high blood pressure can lead to kidney disease. In the United States, more than 60,000 people die each year from end-stage kidney disease. Dr. Ruddy urges everyone to get a yearly physical and to seek out a doctor if they feel there’s an issue.

“Unfortunately, many people learn they have high blood pressure when they have chest pains or a heart attack, or develop kidney issues. So know your family history and keep an eye on the medications you take. If you use recreational drugs or steroids, you’re at a greater risk,” he said.

Dr. Ruddy noted that when caught early, high blood pressure may be treated with diet and exercise. Reducing salt is a big factor in prevention and treatment. There are also medications which he says reduce the risk of heart or kidney diseases by 20 to 40 percent.

Princeton Hypertension-Nephrology Associates specializes in hypertension and kidney disorders. The physicians are Board Certified in Nephrology, and have been designated as Specialists in Clinical Hypertension by the American Society of Hypertension. In addition to Dr. Ruddy, the practice’s physicians include Grace B. Bialy, M.D., F.A.C.P, Vadim A. Finkielstein, M.D., F.A.S.N and Seema Basi, M.D., M.S.C.I., F.A.S.N. They also follow patients and do consulting work at University Medical Center at Princeton and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital – New Brunswick.

Learn more at or by calling 609-750-7330.

Princeton Hypertension-Nephrology Associates. 88 Princeton-Hightstown Road, Suite 203, Princeton Junction. 609-750-7330 Fax: 609-750-7336.

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