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How Can I Tell If I Have High Blood Pressure

Regular Blood Pressure Checks For Over Over 40’s

What to Do If You Have High Blood Pressure

The only way to find out whether you have high blood pressure is to have your blood pressure checked regularly. Ask your GP when you are next due for yours to be checked.

Blood pressure checks are usually available on request at most GP surgeries and health clinics. Some surgeries have home monitoring devices available, which you may be able to use at the time of blood pressure medication start up or change. Many also have a policy of arranging regular checks for you.

Adults who are over 40 and have not been diagnosed with high blood pressure should have their blood pressure checked at least once every five years. However, your blood pressure should ideally be checked more frequently, particularly if you have any contributory risk factors.

What Medication Is Prescribed To Treat High Blood Pressure

Once diagnosed with high blood pressure, you and your doctor will discuss the best treatment options. If your doctor decides to prescribe you with a medication, it can be comforting to understand the different types of blood pressure medication available and what each of them do.

According to the American Heart Association, the following are common classes of blood pressure medications and how each of them help lower your blood pressure:

Each class of medications is accompanied by possible side effects and your doctor will work to determine which medication is right for you.

Common Causes Of High Blood Pressure Spikes

Some people with high blood pressure will experience sharp rises in their blood pressure. These spikes, which typically last only a short period of time, are also known as sudden high blood pressure. These are some possible causes:

  • Caffeine
  • Certain medications or combinations of medications
  • Chronic kidney disease

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Secondary Hypertension Treatment Options

If your doctor discovers an underlying issue causing your hypertension, treatment will focus on that other condition. For example, if a medication youve started taking is causing increased blood pressure, your doctor will try other medications that dont have this side effect.

Sometimes, hypertension is persistent despite treatment for the underlying cause. In this case, your doctor may work with you to develop lifestyle changes and prescribe medications to help reduce your blood pressure.

Treatment plans for hypertension often evolve. What worked at first may become less useful over time. Your doctor will continue to work with you to refine your treatment.

Foods For High Blood Pressure

How High Blood Affects Your Body

If you are eating a whole foods plant-based diet and are still struggling with high blood pressure, there are certain foods you can incorporate into your diet.

A few tablespoons of ground flaxseed a day has been shown to greatly reduce blood pressure. In this study, flaxseed was found to be 2 to 3 times more powerful than an exercise program.

Hibiscus tea also seems to be effective at reducing blood pressure. Although, more research is needed.

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When To See A Doctor

If you have any of these symptoms, see a doctor immediately. You could be having a hypertensive crisis that could lead to a heart attack or stroke. You may also have another serious health condition.

Most of the time, high blood pressure doesnât cause headaches or nosebleeds. But, this can happen in a hypertensive crisis when blood pressure is above 180/120. If your blood pressure is extremely high and you have these symptoms, rest for 5 minutes and check again. If your blood pressure is still unusually high, itâs a medical emergency. Call 911.

Itâs important to remember that high blood pressure doesnât usually have symptoms. So, everyone should get it checked regularly. The American Heart Association recommends that adults with normal blood pressure should get blood pressure checked each year at routine health visits. You may also have it checked at a health resource fair or other locations in your community.

If you have high blood pressure, your doctor might recommend that you monitor it more often at home. At-home monitors may work better than store-based machines. Your doctor will also recommend making lifestyle changes along with medications to lower your blood pressure.

Untreated hypertension can lead to serious diseases, including stroke, heart disease, kidney failure and eye problems.

What A Blood Test Can Do For High Blood Pressure

Once youve been diagnosed with high blood pressure, routine lab tests are recommended before a doctor determines your treatment . One of those tests will be a blood test. A blood test will show a doctor the levels of different substances in your blood for the following:

  • Your cholesterol levels.
  • Electrolytes like sodium, potassium, chloride and bicarbonate.

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Get Regular Blood Pressure Checks

If your blood pressure is in the healthy range and you have no other risk factors for cardiovascular disease, and no personal or family history of high blood pressure, it is still important to have a check at least every two years. Your doctor can also check your blood pressure during routine visits.

If your blood pressure is highnormal , or if you have other risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as a personal or family history of high blood pressure, stroke or heart attack, it is best to have it checked more frequently such as every 6 to 12 months or as directed by your doctor. Ask your doctor for advice.

What Is High Blood Pressure

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Blood pressure is the amount of blood pumped by your heart and the amount of resistance in your arteries. A normal blood pressure reading should be less than 120/80 mm Hg .

The first number is the systolic pressure, which represents the maximum pressure in your heart while beating. The second number is the diastolic pressure, which is the amount of pressure in your arteries between beats.

The new guidelines released by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association state that high blood pressure should now be treated at 130/80 rather than 140/90.

If your systolic blood pressure is between 120 and 129, with a diastolic pressure under 80, you are considered to have elevated blood pressure, and you should do something about it before it gets worse. Well talk about what you should do in a minute.

If your blood pressure is higher than that, you will be diagnosed with hypertension.

Stage 1 hypertension occurs when systolic pressure is between 130 and 139 or diastolic is between 80 and 89.

Stage 2 is a more severe hypertension, when systolic is higher than 140 or diastolic is higher than 90.

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How Can I Measure My Blood Pressure At Home

Talk with your health care team about regularly measuring your blood pressure at home, also called self-measured blood pressure monitoring.

SMBP means you regularly use a personal blood pressure measurement device away from a doctors office or hospitalusually at home. These blood pressure monitors are easy and safe to use. A health care team member can show you how to use one if you need help.

Evidence shows that people with high blood pressure are more likely to lower their blood pressure if they use SMBP combined with support from their health care team than if they dont use SMBP.3

Use these additional tips for SMBP:4

  • Use a blood pressure log pdf icon to record your blood pressure measurements.
  • Take your blood pressure at the same time every day.
  • Take at least two readings, 1 or 2 minutes apart.

Heart Attack And Heart Disease

High blood pressure can damage your arteries by making them less elastic, which decreases the flow of blood and oxygen to your heart and leads to heart disease. In addition, decreased blood flow to the heart can cause:

  • Chest pain, also called angina.
  • Heart attack, which happens when the blood supply to your heart is blocked and heart muscle begins to die without enough oxygen. The longer the blood flow is blocked, the greater the damage to the heart.
  • Heart failure, a condition that means your heart cant pump enough blood and oxygen to your other organs.

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Tests For High Blood Pressure

When you have a doctors appointment, a nurse, medical assistant, or doctor typically checks your blood pressure. They routinely check blood pressure because there arent symptoms of high blood pressure. The only way to catch it is to test it.

A blood pressure machine, officially called a sphygmomanometer, is used to test for high blood pressure. The blood pressure cuff fits around your arm. Doctors or nurses might use a manual blood pressure cuff and a stethoscope to measure your blood pressure. At home, you can use an electronic blood pressure monitor. It only takes a minute or so to do the test.

When measuring blood pressure, youll observe two numbers:

  • Systolic: top number indicating pressure inside the artery when the heart is contracting
  • Diastolic: bottom number indicating the pressure of blood inside the arteries when the heart is filling

You have high blood pressure if you have a systolic reading of 140 mm Hg or higher and a diastolic reading of 90 mm Hg or higher. In this case, the nurse or doctor might wait a few minutes and check your blood pressure again. If its still high, you might be asked to monitor your blood pressure at home.

High blood pressure can be a sign of another medical condition. Untreated high blood pressure can cause organ damage. To assess your health properly, a doctor might also order a urine test, blood tests, or an electrocardiogram to check your heart health.

Other Inconclusively Related Symptoms

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A variety of symptoms may be indirectly related to, but are not always caused by, high blood pressure, such as:

  • Blood spots in the eyes: Blood spots in the eyes are more common in people with diabetes or high blood pressure, but neither condition causes the blood spots. Floaters in the eyes are also not related to high blood pressure. However, an eye doctor may be able to detect damage to the optic nerve caused by untreated high blood pressure.
  • Facial flushing: Facial flushing occurs when blood vessels in the face dilate. It can occur unpredictably or in response to certain triggers such as sun exposure, cold weather, spicy foods, wind, hot drinks and skin-care products. Facial flushing can also occur with emotional stress, exposure to heat or hot water, alcohol consumption and exercise all of which can raise blood pressure temporarily. While facial flushing may occur while your blood pressure is higher than usual, high blood pressure is not the cause of facial flushing.
  • Dizziness: While dizziness can be a side effect of some blood pressure medications, it is not caused by high blood pressure. However, dizziness should not be ignored, especially if the onset is sudden. Sudden dizziness, loss of balance or coordination and trouble walking are all warning signs of a stroke. High blood pressure is a leading risk factor for stroke.

Written by American Heart Association editorial staff and reviewed by science and medicine advisers. See our editorial policies and staff.

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How Often Should I Monitor My Blood Pressure

High blood pressure doesnt always cause symptoms, so its important to get your blood pressure checked. Recent guidelines recommend that all adults age 40 and older check their blood pressure at least once per year. Younger adults can check it every three to five years, or every year if they are at higher risk.

If you already have high blood pressure, you will need to check your blood pressure more frequently especially when you are starting or adjusting medications. Once your blood pressure stabilizes with treatment, you usually wont need to check it as often. Regular monitoring is still important, though, because your blood pressure can change over time, even when youre taking medications.

What Are The Possible Complications Of High Blood Pressure

Knowing about the potential complications of high blood pressure can help you to know if you have high blood pressure.

Heart Diseases Heart failure when the heart is unable to pump enough blood, it can lead to swelling in legs, feet and cause breathing difficulty. Heart attack can be a result of sudden blocking of blood circulation to the heart muscle, presented with chest pain, difficulty in breathing, sweating and nausea.

Stroke When blood supplying the brain gets blocked, cutting off the oxygen supply, it can result in a medical emergency. It is presented with sudden onset of weakness or numbness in arms, jaws and difficulty in speech.

Circulatory Problems An abnormal bulge in the arterial wall is called aneurysm, which blocks blood flow and causes obstruction. Peripheral artery disease, which is building up of plaque on the inner lining of arteries of legs affecting blood flow symptoms include heaviness and pain in legs, swelling, cramping and numbness in buttocks and legs after walking for long.

Others High blood pressure for a long time can cause damage to the kidneys, eyes and other organs, hence timely treatment and prevention is necessary.

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Why Is It Important To Know If You Have High Blood Pressure

Early detection of high blood pressure is very important. Often referred to as the silent killer because it may show no symptoms, high blood pressure puts you at an increased risk for heart disease, heart failure, and stroke, among other things. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2013, more than 360,000 deaths in the United States included high blood pressure as a primary or contributing cause.

About High Blood Pressure

What You Need to Know 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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Hypertension: What You Need To Know As You Age

You cant see high blood pressure, also called hypertension. And most ofthe time, you cant feel it. But if youre among the 78 million Americanswith hypertension or are one of the 70 million with prehypertension, its important to understandits effects on your healthand to take action today to bring your numbersdown to healthier levels.

Blood pressure is the force of blood against the inner walls of yourarteries. It has normal fluctuations throughout the dayfalling when yourerelaxed or asleep, rising naturally in the morning, and increasingtemporarily when youre under stress, excited or exercising. But when yourresting blood pressure level rises too high, it can scar, stiffen and/orweaken blood vessels. This effect can double your risk for aheart attack quadruple your odds for astroke raise your risk forheart failure, vision loss, kidney problems,dementiaand circulation problems such asperipheral artery disease weaken your bones and contribute toerectile dysfunctionin men.

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.

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High Blood Pressure Treatment

The best way to lower blood pressure begins with changes you can make to your lifestyle to help lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease. Additionally, your doctor may prescribe medicine to lower your blood pressure. These are called antihypertensive medicines.

The goal of treatment is to reduce your blood pressure to normal levels. Your doctor may prescribe medicine thats easy to take and has few, if any, side effects. This treatment is highly successful. If your blood pressure can only be controlled with medicine, youll need to take the medicine for the rest of your life. It is common to need more than one medicine to help control your blood pressure. Dont stop taking the medicine without talking with your doctor. Otherwise, you may increase your risk of having a stroke or heart attack.

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Get To Know Your Numbers

Symptoms of high blood pressure: Myths, facts, and pregnancy

Because there arent any symptoms, its important to have your blood pressure checked regularly. Get to know the numbers and when to get help from your doctor.

Your blood pressure will have two numbers:

  • Systolic is the upper number, measuring when your heart is forcing blood through your vessels.
  • Diastolic is the lower number, measuring pressure between heart beats.

For example, 120/80 indicates a systolic blood pressure of 120 and a diastolic blood pressure of 80 mm/Hg.

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