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How Do You Know If You Have High Blood Pressure

How To Prepare For A Blood Pressure Test

How do you know if you have High Blood Pressure?

Your doctor will use a blood pressure test to see if you have higher-than-normal blood pressure readings. The reading is made up of two numbers, with the systolic number above the diastolic number. These numbers are measures of pressure in mm Hg. To learn more about systolic and diastolic pressure, visit How the Heart Works.

A blood pressure test is easy and painless and can be done in a doctor’s office or clinic. A healthcare provider will use a gauge, stethoscope, or electronic sensor and a blood pressure cuff to measure your blood pressure. To prepare, take the following steps:

  • Do not exercise, drink coffee, or smoke cigarettes for 30 minutes before the test.
  • Go to the bathroom before the test.
  • For at least 5 minutes before the test, sit in a chair and relax.
  • Make sure your feet are flat on the floor.
  • Do not talk while you are relaxing or during the test.
  • Uncover your arm for the cuff.
  • Rest your arm on a table so it is supported and at the level of your heart.

If it is the first time your provider has measured your blood pressure, you may have readings taken on both arms.

You can also take your blood pressure at home or at a pharmacy. Visit Measure Your Blood Pressure for more information.

High Blood Pressure Chart

The chart below shows measures for normal and high blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association .

Doctors measure blood pressure in millimeters of mercury .

Systolic pressure measures the pressure in the arteries as the heart contracts and is the top number on a blood pressure reading. Diastolic, which is the lower number, represents the blood pressure when the heart is resting between beats.

Systolic
  • congenital conditions, such as Cushings syndrome, acromegaly, or pheochromocytoma

Sometimes, there is no apparent cause. In this case, a doctor will diagnose primary hypertension.

Consuming a high fat diet, carrying excess weight, drinking a lot of alcohol, smoking tobacco, and the use of some medications also increase the risk.

Treatment will depend on several factors, including:

  • how high the blood pressure is
  • the risk of cardiovascular disease or a stroke

The doctor will recommend different treatments as blood pressure increases. For slightly high blood pressure, they may suggest making lifestyle changes and monitoring the blood pressure.

If blood pressure is high, they will recommend medication. The options may change over time, according to how severe the hypertension is and whether complications arise, such as kidney disease. Some people may need a combination of several different medications.

Adopting A Cleaner Lifestyle

If youre a smoker, try to quit. The chemicals in tobacco smoke damage the bodys tissues and harden blood vessel walls.

If you regularly consume too much alcohol or have an alcohol dependency, seek help to reduce the amount you drink or stop altogether. Alcohol can raise blood pressure.

One of the easiest ways you can treat hypertension and prevent possible complications is through your diet. What you eat can go a long way toward easing or eliminating hypertension.

Here are some of the most common dietary recommendations for people with hypertension.

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Other Inconclusively Related Symptoms

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.

Pounding In Your Ears

Hypertension High Bloodpressure

If you have a sensation of pulsing or pounding in your ears when you havent been exercising vigorously, this could indicate an elevated blood pressure. It could also be related to drinking too much caffeine, so try cutting back on the coffee and soda. Anxiety can have the same effect, so try meditation or a relaxing activity to see if the pounding sensation resolves.

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A Final Caution: Stroke Symptoms

Since high blood pressure can lead to a stroke, make sure that your family members and caregivers also know the signs of stroke. They should take immediate action if you suddenly experience:

  • Numbness or weakness on one side of the face or body
  • Confusion or difficulty speaking
  • Trouble walking, or lack of balance or coordination
  • Severe headache
  • Stay aware and seek high blood pressure treatment

Some people may have a tendency to ignore or deny hypertension symptoms because they dont want to go to the doctor or the emergency room, they dont want to admit the possibility of being ill, or they dont understand the seriousness.A key part of healthy aging is communicating health concerns to your doctor or nurse. That includes getting immediate attention to and treatment for potential symptoms of a high blood pressure crisis.Dont disregard professional medical advice, or delay seeking it, because of what you read here. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional consultation, diagnosis or treatment it is provided as is without any representations or warranties, express or implied. Always consult a healthcare provider if you have specific questions about any medical matter, and seek professional attention immediately if you think you or someone in your care may be suffering from a health condition.

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Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring

Having a raised blood pressure reading in 1 test does not necessarily mean you have high blood pressure.

Blood pressure can fluctuate throughout the day. Feeling anxious or stressed when you visit your GP can also raise your blood pressure.

If you have a high reading, you may be asked to take some readings with a 24-hour monitor that checks your blood pressure throughout the day.

This will confirm whether you have consistently high blood pressure.

It’s known as 24-hour or ambulatory blood pressure monitoring.

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Living With High Blood Pressure

Controlling your high blood pressure is a lifelong commitment. You will always need to monitor your weight, make healthy food choices, exercise, learn to cope with stress, avoid smoking, and limit your alcohol intake. If you need medicine to control your high blood pressure, you will likely need it all your life.

Additionally, you will need to get used to regular blood pressure checks. Your doctor may want you to come to the office regularly. Or you may be asked to check your blood pressure at home and keep track of your numbers for your doctor. Some pharmacies and retail clinics have blood pressure machines on site. You can buy your own, automated arm blood pressure cuff for use at home. Your doctor may want you to check your blood pressure several times a day. Another option is to use an ambulatory blood pressure monitor.

Secondary Hypertension Treatment Options

How Do You Know When You Have High Blood Pressure?

If your doctor discovers an underlying issue causing your hypertension, treatment will focus on that other condition. For example, if a medicine youve started taking is causing increased blood pressure, your doctor will try other medicines 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.

Many people go through a trial-and-error phase with blood pressure medications. You may need to try different medicines until you find one or a combination of medications that work for you.

Some of the medications used to treat hypertension include:

Healthy lifestyle changes can help you control the factors that cause hypertension. Here are some of the most common home remedies.

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What Does It Mean To Have High Blood Pressure

While high blood pressure may be common affecting nearly 1 out of every 3 U.S. adults its often misunderstood or overlooked. With a lack of noticeable signs and symptoms, high blood pressure may not feel like a serious health threat. But overtime, this condition can damage your heart and increase your risk for heart attack and stroke.

There is a bit of good news, though. High blood pressure is not only easy to diagnose and treat, but its also preventable. This starts with understanding what blood pressure is and the role it plays in cardiovascular health.

When To See A Doctor For High Blood Pressure

Since the majority of individuals living with hypertension dont experience symptoms, its likely youll find out about your high blood pressure numbers during a doctors appointment. After being diagnosed with hypertension, you should continue to see your doctor, especially if you cant control your blood pressure with prescribed medication or recommended lifestyle changes.

Youre experiencing a hypertensive crisis

You should also see or contact your doctor if you experience a related high blood pressure event called a hypertensive crisis. There are two main types of hypertensive crises:

Hypertensive emergency

A hypertensive emergency is a rare medical emergency where your blood pressure is 180/120 mm Hg or higher and you are experiencing symptoms of target organ damage. If this happens to you, call emergency medical services right away.

Symptoms of target organ damage include:

  • Difficulty speaking

Hypertensive urgency

If youre experiencing elevated blood pressure of 180/120 mm Hg or higher but are not experiencing any of the above symptoms, this is called hypertensive urgency. Wait five minutes and take your blood pressure a second time. If it is just as high, call your doctors office. Your doctor might want to adjust your medications. Hypertensive urgency does not usually result in hospitalization.

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High Blood Sugar Causes

You may be thinking that hyperglycemia can happen just from eating a super-sugary food, but its not really as simple as that. Sure, eating a lot of sugar or carbs can elevate your blood sugar level, but thats typically when your pancreas kicks into gear and creates insulin to move that glucose into cells throughout the body.

But when someone has diabetes, this finely tuned system gets thrown out of whack. In type 2 diabeteswhich accounts for 90% to 95% of diabetes in adults, according to the CDCthe body either cant make enough insulin or cant utilize insulin well, according to the NIDDK. If someone has prediabetes, their blood glucose will be higher than normal but not quite in the type 2 diabetes range yet, per the NIDDK. And in type 1 diabetes, the body does not make insulin or makes very little.

In any case, the result is extra sugar hanging around the bloodstream, making you feel like total crap in the short term and putting your health at risk in the long term.

How Often Should I Monitor My Blood Pressure

10 Important Signs To Tell If You Have High 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.

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Upmc Central Pa Portal

UPMC Central Pa. Portal provides patients across the central Pennsylvania region with secure access to their health information. It is the fastest way to send a message to your doctor, refill prescriptions, get test results, and schedule and manage appointments, including video visits.

What Are The Different Types Of High Blood Pressure

There are two main types of high blood pressure: primary and secondary high blood pressure.

  • Primary, or essential, high blood pressure is the most common type of high blood pressure. For most people who get this kind of blood pressure, it develops over time as you get older.
  • Secondary high blood pressure is caused by another medical condition or use of certain medicines. It usually gets better after you treat that condition or stop taking the medicines that are causing it.

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Treating High Blood Pressure With Lifestyle Changes

Your doctor may suggest that you make one or more of the following changes:

  • Lose weight. If you’re overweight, losing extra kilograms may bring your blood pressure down.
  • Get more active. Regular aerobic exercise can help lower blood pressure.
  • Stop smoking. Smoking increases your risk for heart attack and stroke.
  • Cut back on drinking. Limit alcohol to 2 drinks a day and no more than 14 drinks a week for men and 9 drinks a week for women.
  • Eat less sodium. To help lower blood pressure, try to eat less than 2,000 mg a day.footnote 2
  • Follow theDASH diet. The DASH eating plan can help you lower your blood pressure.

For tips on how to do these things, see the Living With High Blood Pressure section of this topic.

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Izzy, 60

“I could never have imagined I could get down so low by losing weight. I feel sure it was the WAY I lost weight, with DASH.”Izzy

Read more about Izzy and how she uses the DASH eating plan.

Improving Health With Current Research

3 Ways to Tell if You Have High Blood Pressure Symptoms

Learn about the following ways in which we continue to translate current research and science into improved health for people who have high blood pressure. Research on this topic is part of our broader commitment to advancing scientific discovery in heart and vascular disease and health disparities and inequities research.

Learn about some of the pioneering research contributions we have made over the years that have improved clinical care.

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How To Prevent High Blood Pressure

A heart-healthy lifestyle can help prevent high blood pressure from developing. To live a healthy lifestyle:

Watch this video to learn more about why high blood pressure is such a problem.

This video shows how high blood pressure damages the walls of your arteries over time and leads to life-threatening health problems.

High blood pressure in pregnancy can raise the risk of later heart and blood vessel problems for both the mother and her child.

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.

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Signs Of High Blood Sugar

Someone who has been diagnosed with diabetes will be familiar with how it feels to have hyperglycemia. But for the millions of people who have diabetes or prediabetes and are unaware of it, knowing the signs of high blood sugar could prompt them to seek care and get a diagnosis as soon as possible.

While type 1 diabetes symptoms can come on suddenly and severely, its important to note that type 2 diabetes symptoms can creep up gradually and be so mild that theyre not noticeable, the NIDDK explains. And most people with prediabetes actually have no symptoms, per the NIDDK. So its extremely important to get screened if you have risk factors, like having a family history, being overweight, or being over age 45, the NIDDK says.

Still, there are many potential signs of high blood sugar in the short and long term that it doesnt hurt to be conscious of, especially if you are at elevated risk.

Early on, hyperglycemia can make you feel off in a variety of ways:

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