High Blood Pressure: Causes And Risk Factors
There are lots of reasons your blood pressure can increaseeven momentarily. For example, excitement or exercise can give your blood pressure a temporary boost.
There are certain choices that you make or risk factors that you might have that can raise your blood pressure regularly, or even cause it to be in a high state permanently, too.
Some examples of causes and risk factors for high blood pressure include:
- A family history of high blood pressure
- African American ethnicity
- High-sodium and high-fat diet
- Lack of exercise
Being sedentary, following a diet that is high in fat and salt, and smoking are lifestyle factors that contribute to high blood pressure. Unlike your genetics or family history, these lifestyle choices are things that you can make changes to.
Most People With Hypertension Feel Okay
Hypertension usually does not produce any symptoms, because the organs of the body can resist high blood pressure for a long time. Thats why its important to have regular medical examinations to make sure your blood pressure isnt creeping up as you grow older.High blood pressure over a period of time can contribute to many illnesses, including:
- heart attack
The effects of high blood pressure on the arteries are worsened by:
- cigarette smoking
- high levels of saturated fat in the diet
- high blood cholesterol
Responses to some types of stress may affect both blood pressure and changes in the arteries, but this remains scientifically uncertain.
What Can I Do If I Have A Family History Of High Blood Pressure
Knowing about your family medical history is important for many reasons. A history of certain cancers, for example, may determine when you get screened for those cancers. If high blood pressure runs in your family, its important to share this information with your doctor and regularly monitor your blood pressure.
One way to organize information about your family health history, as well as your own, is to use My Family Health Portrait, an online tool created by the National Institutes of Health. You can gather your family medical history, share it with other relatives, and learn about your risk levels for conditions that tend to run in families.
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Facts About High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure affects your health at every level
There’s a good reason why every doctor’s appointment starts with a blood pressure check. While one in three American adults has high blood pressure, about 20% of people are unaware that they have it because it is largely symptomless.
In fact, most people find out they have high blood pressure during a routine office visit.
Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of arteries as the heart pumps blood. High blood pressure, also referred to as hypertension, is when that force is too high and begins harming the body. If left untreated, it willl eventually cause damage to the heart and blood vessels.
Your blood pressure is measured in two numbers: The top systolic blood pressure measures the force pushing against artery walls when the heart is contracting. The bottom diastolic blood pressure measures pressure in the arteries when the heart is resting between beats.
Normal blood pressure levels are 120 mmHg/80 mmHg or lower. At risk levels are 120-139 mmHg/80-89 mmHg. Readings of 140 mmHg/90 mmHg or higher are defined as high blood pressure.
Here are six other things you should know about high blood pressure.
A Note About Sex And Gender
Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms, male, female, or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. .
If blood pressure is too high for too long, it can cause serious damage to the blood vessels.
This can lead to various complications, some of which can be life threatening. They include:
- kidney disease
There are ways of managing high blood pressure, or hypertension. The condition does not often cause symptoms, but regular screening can help a person know if preventive measures are necessary.
The United States Preventive Services Task Force estimates that high blood pressure affects around 45% of adults in the U.S.
In this article, we look at the causes of high blood pressure and how to treat it. We also explain the blood pressure measurements that health authorities consider to be typical or too high.
The heart is a muscle that pumps blood around the body. As it travels, the blood delivers oxygen to the bodys vital organs.
Sometimes, a problem in the body makes it harder for the heart to pump blood. For example, this could occur if an artery becomes too narrow.
Persistent high blood pressure can place strain on the walls of the arteries. This can lead to various health problems, some of which can be life threatening.
Doctors measure blood pressure in millimeters of mercury .
Therefore, if blood pressure is 120/80 mm Hg, the systolic pressure is 120 mm Hg and the diastolic pressure is 80 mm Hg.
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Goodfellow Gem Bp 140 Treated To 120 No Increase In Concern Re Falling
In an extra analysis of the SPRINT trial, where hypertensive patients were randomised to a treatment target of 140 mm Hg or 120 mm Hg, the concerns about falling were measured on the Efficacy Scale International questionnaire at baseline, six months, one year, and annually thereafter.1 While there was an expected increase in falling concerns there was no difference between the groups randomised to 140 vs 120 mm Hg. In the original paper there was a statistically significant increase in syncope but not in terms of injurious falls.2 With older patients it’s prudent to check their blood pressures sitting and standing but at the same time remembering that older patients have the highest CVD risk so treatment is a balance of benefit against harms.References:
What Changes Do You Need To Make
Make these lifestyle changes to help lower your blood pressure:
- Lose extra weight. If you are overweight, losing as little as 4.5 kg may lower your blood pressure. It may also allow you to take less blood pressure medicine. Losing weight may also lower your cholesterol.
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Prognosis Of The Disease
One of the processes that often causes hypertension is arteriosclerosis or accumulation of cholesterol in the arteries and thrombosis, also leading to aneurysms. Thus, hypertension must be controlled, as it can lead to serious diseases, some of which can be life-threatening, such as heart attack, stroke, renal failure and even visual impairment.
Because of its high morbidity, hypertension is considered a serious risk factor and a major public health problem in developed countries.
How Blood Pressure Is Measured
Blood pressure testing stations can be found in pharmacies, workplaces, and medical clinics. You can also buy a blood pressure monitor online or at your local pharmacy.
To measure blood pressure, a cuff attached to a monitor is placed on your arm. The cuff is then inflated with an air pump until its pressure stops blood flow from your brachial arterythe major artery found in your upper arm.
As the cuff deflates, the device measures the pressure when blood starts flowing again . Once the cuff is completely deflated, the device gauges the lowest pressure between beats .
Typically, more attention is given to the systolic pressure reading, as systolic blood pressure is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease in people over the age of 50. Still, both readings are used to make a diagnosis.
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Can High Blood Pressure Affect Pregnancy
High blood pressure complicates about 10% of all pregnancies. There are several different types of high blood pressure during pregnancy and they range from mild to serious. The forms of high blood pressure during pregnancy include:
Chronic hypertension: High blood pressure which is present before pregnancy.
Gestational hypertension: High blood pressure in the latter part of pregnancy.
Preeclampsia: This is a dangerous condition that typically develops in the latter half of pregnancy and results in hypertension, protein in the urine and generalized swelling in the pregnant person. It can affect other organs in the body and cause seizures .
Chronic hypertension with superimposed preeclampsia: Pregnant people who have chronic hypertension are at increased risk for developing preeclampsia.
Your provider will check your blood pressure regularly during prenatal appointments, but if you have concerns about your blood pressure, be sure to talk with your provider.
Know Your Risk For High Blood Pressure
Some medical conditions can raise your risk for high blood pressure, but you can take steps to lower your risk by changing the factors you can control.
Risk factors that can increase your risk of high blood pressure include health conditions, your lifestyle, and your family history.
Some of the risk factors for high blood pressure cannot be controlled, such as your age or family history. But you can take steps to lower your risk by changing the factors you can control.
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How Is High Blood Pressure Treated
Doctors have a wide range of high blood pressure medicines available to treat high blood pressure. These high blood pressure treatments include diuretics — often called “water pills” — beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers , and other types of medication.
As effective as these drugs can be at controlling blood pressure, if you get to the point of needing them, you may have to take them for the rest of your life. That is one more good reason to focus on prevention.
About High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is usually defined as having a sustained blood pressure of 140/90mmHg or above.
The line between normal and raised blood pressure is not fixed and depends on your individual circumstances. However, most doctors agree that the ideal blood pressure for a physically healthy person is around 120/80mmHg.
A normal blood pressure reading is classed as less than 130/80mmHg.
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Maintain A Healthy Weight
Being overweight is a risk factor for having high blood pressure, and your risk increases further if you are obese.
There are two ways to check if you are overweight:
- Body Mass Index – This is your weight in kilograms divided by your height in metres squared. In the UK, people with a BMI of between 25 to 30 are overweight, and those with an index above 30 are classed as obese. People with a BMI of 40 or more are morbidly obese.
- Waist size – Using a measuring tape place the tape round your waist between the bottom of your ribs and the top of your hip bone. The table below indicates how much your health might be at risk, your ethnicity should also be taken into account.
|Over 80 cm|
The best way to tackle obesity is by reducing the amount of calories that you eat, and taking regular exercise. Your GP can provide you with further information and advice on how you can do this.
More about having a healthy weight
Blood Pressure Is Linked To Other Medical Issues
High blood pressure can be the first indication of a serious underlying condition. When a patient comes in with high blood pressure, doctors will check their urine and kidney function do an electrocardiogram to check the size of the heart and look for lung changes.
Stress on the blood vessels makes people with hypertension more prone to heart disease, peripheral vascular disease, heart attack, stroke, kidney disease and aneurysms. Correspondingly, chronic conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease, sleep apnea and high cholesterol increase the risk for developing high blood pressure.
In some women, pregnancy can contribute to high blood pressure, leading to preeclampsia. Postpartum blood pressure typically goes back to normal levels within six weeks. However, some women who have high blood pressure during more than one pregnancy may be more likely to develop high blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases as they age.
Some of these medical issues can also cause spikes in high blood pressure .
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What Is A High Blood Pressure Reading
You will probably be diagnosed with high blood pressure if your readings are consistently 140/90mmHg or higher over a number of weeks. This is the cut-off point many GPs use for diagnosing high blood pressure.
You might also have high blood pressure if just one of the numbers is higher than it should be so if the top number is over 140mmHg or the bottom number is over 90mmHg.
A single high reading doesnt necessarily mean you have high blood pressure, as many things can affect your blood pressure throughout the day and it could just be a one-off. If you have a high reading, your doctor or nurse will want to see if it stays high over time before diagnosing high blood pressure.
What Diet Helps Control High Blood Pressure
- Eat foods that are lower in fat, salt and calories, such as skim or 1% milk, fresh vegetables and fruits, and whole-grain rice and pasta.
- Use flavorings, spices and herbs to make foods tasty without using salt. The optimal recommendation for salt in your diet is to have less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium a day. Don’t forget that most restaurant foods and many processed and frozen foods contain high levels of salt. Use herbs and spices that do not contain salt in recipes to flavor your food. Dont add salt at the table.
- Avoid or cut down on foods high in fat or salt, such as butter and margarine, regular salad dressings, fatty meats, whole milk dairy products, fried foods, processed foods or fast foods and salted snacks.
- Ask your provider if you should increase potassium in your diet. Discuss the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet with your provider. The DASH diet emphasizes adding fruits, vegetables and whole grains to your diet while reducing the amount of sodium. Since its rich in fruits and vegetables, which are naturally lower in sodium than many other foods, the DASH diet makes it easier to eat less salt and sodium.
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Learning To Cope With Stress Can Help
Stress and hypertension have often been linked, but researchers are still looking into a direct relationship between the two. Still, the best advice to hypertensive patients: Try to relax.
When you are stressed, your body sends stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol into the bloodstream. These hormones create a temporary spike in blood pressure, causing your heart to beat faster and blood vessels to narrow. When the stressful situation is over, blood pressure goes back to its normal level.
Chronic stress, however, may cause your body to stay in this highly-charged state longer than natural.
While stress itself may or may not affect blood pressure, how you cope with stress does. For instance, overeating, smoking and drinking alcohol in response to stressful situations are direct causes of sustained high blood pressure. On the flip side, healthier coping mechanisms like exercising, practicing yoga and meditating can all help lower blood pressure.
How Do I Know If I Have High Blood Pressure
Theres only one way to know if you have high blood pressure: Have a doctor or other health professional measure it. Measuring your blood pressure is quick and painless.
Talk with your health care team about regularly measuring your blood pressure at home, also called self-measured blood pressure monitoring.
High blood pressure is called the silent killer because it usually has no warning signs or symptoms, and many people do not know they have it.
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What Medications Are Used To Treat High Blood Pressure
Four classes of high blood pressure medications are considered first line when starting treatment. Sometimes other medications are coupled with these first-line drugs to better control your high blood pressure. First-line, pressure-lowering medications are:
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors block the production of the angiotensin II hormone, which the body naturally uses to control blood pressure. When angiotensin II is blocked, your blood vessels dont narrow. Examples: lisinopril , enalapril or captopril.
- Angiotensin II receptor blockers block this same hormone from binding with receptors in the blood vessels. ARBs work the same way as ACE inhibitors to keep blood vessels from narrowing. Examples: metoprolol , valsartan or losartan.
- Calcium channel blockers prevent calcium from entering the muscle cells of your heart and blood vessels, allowing these vessels to relax. Examples: amlodipine , nifedipine , diltiazem .
- Diuretics flush excess sodium from your body, reducing the amount of fluid in your blood. Diuretics are often used with other high blood pressure medicines, sometimes in one combined pill. Examples: indapamide, hydrochlorothiazide or chlorothiazide.
Normal Blood Pressure Levels
A blood pressure reading is taken using a cuff and a stethoscope or monitor. It produces two numbers, one stacked on top of the other.
The top number is called your systolic blood pressure. It is the force that your blood puts on your arteries with each beat of your heart. The bottom number, or diastolic pressure, is the force on the walls of your arteries between beats when your heart is at rest.
A normal blood pressure reading is close to 120/80 mmHg . If your reading is higher, it means that you have high blood pressure. However, high blood pressure can be at different levels, depending on how elevated the numbers are.
The levels of high blood pressure are:
- Elevated/at risk:120129 systolic, 80 diastolic
- Stage 1 hypertension :130139 systolic, 8089 diastolic
- Stage 2 hypertension :140179 systolic, 90119 diastolic
- Hypertensive crisis :180 systolic and above, 120 diastolic and above
Normal blood pressure is 120/80 mmHg. You are considered to have at least a degree of high blood pressure if your reading is over 130/80.
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