How Is High Blood Pressure Diagnosed
To figure out your blood pressure rate, your health care provider takes blood pressure readings at different times. You need more than 1 reading because blood pressure changes depending on what you are doing and varies during the day. For example, your blood pressure can increase when you are nervous or in a hurry.
If your blood pressure is high while with your health care provider but normal otherwise, you may just be nervous. This effect is common. Even people already being treated for high blood pressure go through this.
What matters is what happens to your blood pressure outside your health care providers office. If you have high blood pressure, you should use a home blood pressure monitor. Ask your health care provider how to use the monitor correctly.
How Can I Lower Blood Pressure Whilst Managing My Diabetes
There are various ways to lower blood pressure, including modifying lifestyle and medication. Losing weight makes a big difference to blood pressure.
Taking regular physical exercise also makes a big difference to blood pressure. Lowering salt intake also makes a major difference to blood pressure, as does eating a more healthy diet in general.
Furthermore, cutting down alcohol and stopping smoking can also lower blood pressure amongst diabetics. Drug treatment is used in some instances, with several different drugs used to lower blood pressure.
How Common Is High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a common condition, it is estimated that 18% of adult men and 13% of adult women have high blood pressure but are not getting treatment for it.
In 90-95% of cases, there is no single identifiable reason for a rise in blood pressure. But all available evidence shows that lifestyle plays a significant role in regulating your blood pressure.
Risk factors for high blood pressure include:
- poor diet
- being overweight
- excessive alcohol consumption.
Also, for reasons not fully understood, people of Afro-Caribbean and South Asian origin are more likely to develop high blood pressure than other ethnic groups.
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What Is High Blood Pressure
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.
How Do Health Care Professionals Measure My Blood Pressure
First, a health care professional wraps an inflatable cuff around your arm. The health care professional then inflates the cuff, which gently tightens on your arm. The cuff has a gauge on it that will measure your blood pressure.
The health care professional will slowly let air out of the cuff while listening to your pulse with a stethoscope and watching the gauge. This process is quick and painless. If using a digital or automatic blood pressure cuff, the health care professional will not need to use a stethoscope.
The gauge uses a unit of measurement called millimeters of mercury to measure the pressure in your blood vessels.
If you have high blood pressure, talk to your health care team about steps to take to control your blood pressure to lower your risk for heart disease and stroke.
Use this list of questions to ask your health care team pdf icon to help you manage your blood pressure.
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How Is High Blood Pressure Treated
If high blood pressure is due to a condition like kidney disease or lung disease, treating it might be enough to get the blood pressure back to normal.
Doctors also might recommend lifestyle changes. If you have hypertension, your doctor might want you to:
Eat a healthy diet:
- Eat more fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy.
- Limit salt.
- Avoid alcohol.
Get regular exercise:
- Try to exercise for 3060 minutes at least 3 times a week. But teens with severe hypertension should not do any weightlifting or power-lifting, bodybuilding, or strength training until their blood pressure is under control and a doctor says it’s OK.
Not smoke. Or if you do smoke, quit:
- People with high blood pressure should not smoke, and their home and car should be smoke-free.
If diet and exercise changes do not improve the blood pressure, doctors may prescribe medicine.
In Most Cases High Blood Pressure Does Not Cause Headaches Or Nosebleeds
- The best evidence indicates that high blood pressure does not cause headaches or nosebleeds, except in the case of hypertensive crisis, a medical emergency when blood pressure is 180/120 mm Hg or higher. If your blood pressure is unusually high AND you have headache or nosebleed and are feeling unwell, wait five minutes and retest. If your reading remains at 180/120 mm Hg or higher, call 911.
- If you are experiencing severe headaches or nosebleeds and are otherwise unwell, contact your doctor as they could be symptoms of other health conditions.
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Primary High Blood Pressure
While the specific cause of primary high blood pressure remains unknown, there is compelling evidence to suggest that a number of risk factors increase your chances of developing the condition.
These risk factors include:
- age – the risk of developing high blood pressure increases as you get older
- a family history of high blood pressure – the condition seems to run in families
- being of Afro-Caribbean or South Asian origin
- high-fat diet
- high amount of salt in your diet
- lack of exercise
- excessive alcohol consumption
A number of health conditions, such as diabetes and kidney disease, have also been linked to an increase risk of developing primary high blood pressure.
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.
One Woman’s Story:
“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
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What Affects A Blood Pressure Reading
Many things can affect a blood pressure reading, including:
- Nervousness about having your blood pressure taken. This is called white coat syndrome. As many as 1 in 3 people who have a high blood pressure reading at the doctors office may have normal blood pressure readings outside of it.1
- What you ate, drank, or did before your reading. If you smoked, drank alcohol or caffeine, or exercised within 30 minutes of having your blood pressure measured, your reading might be higher.2
- How you are sitting. Crossing your legs and letting your arm droop at your side rather than rest on a table at chest height can make your blood pressure go up.2
Its important to get an accurate blood pressure reading so that you have a clearer picture of your risk for heart disease and stroke.
A reading that says your blood pressure is lower than it actually is may give you a false sense of security about your health. A reading that says your blood pressure is higher than it actually is may lead to treatment you dont need.
Advancing Research For Improved Health
In support of our mission, we are committed to advancing high blood pressure research in part through the following ways.
- We perform research. The NHLBI Division of Intramural Research and its Cardiovascular Branch conducts research on diseases that affect the heart and blood vessels, including high blood pressure. Other DIR groups, such as the Center for Molecular Medicine and Systems Biology Center, perform research on heart and vascular diseases.
- We fund research. The research we fund today will help improve our future health. Our Division of Cardiovascular Sciences and its Vascular Biology and Hypertension Branch oversee much of the research we fund on the regulation of blood pressure, pathways involved in high blood pressure, and the complications from uncontrolled high blood pressure. The Center for Translation Research and Implementation Science supports research to translate these discoveries into clinical practice. Search the NIH RePORTer to learn about research NHLBI is funding on high blood pressure.
- We stimulate high-impact research. Our Trans-Omics for Precision Medicine Program includes participants who have high blood pressure, which may help us understand how genes contribute to differences in disease severity and how patients respond to treatment. The NHLBI Strategic Vision highlights ways we may support research over the next decade, including new efforts for studying high blood pressure.
Learn about exciting high blood pressure research we are exploring.
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Symptoms And Life Expectancy
What is high blood pressure exactly? Its a common disease in which blood flows through blood vessels and arteries at higher than normal pressures.
Hypertension costs the U.S. $46 billion each year, which includes the cost of health care services, medications to treat high blood pressure symptoms and missed days of work a number thats expected to rise with the American Heart Association releasing new standards for what constitutes high blood pressure. Standard medical treatment for elevated blood pressure is to prescribe dangerous beta blockers, ACE inhibitor drugs and diuretics, along with convincing the patient to restrict salt in the diet. Although these things can help, they dont get to the root of the problem and can actually cause more problems. Weve been encouraged to fear salt when it comes to our health, but this recommendation of extreme salt reduction for high blood pressure symptoms remains controversial, questionable and even destructive for good reason.
Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps blood. High blood pressure happens when this force is too high. Scary, but true: Most people who have this condition display zero signs or high blood pressure symptoms, even when their blood pressure readings are at dangerously high levels.
Under the previous guidelines, blood pressure ranges include:
The new guidelines from the American Heart Association are as follows:
- Severe headaches
Diagnosis Of High Blood Pressure
The best way to diagnose HBP is to have it measured. A blood pressure reading, given in millimeters of mercury , has two numbers.
- Systolic blood pressure indicates how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls during heartbeats.
- Diastolic blood pressure indicates how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls while the heart is resting between beats.
Blood pressure measurements fall into four general categories. The American Heart Associations guidelines are as follow:
- Normal blood pressure: A reading of less than 120 and 80
- Elevated blood pressure: A reading ranging from 120 to 129 and below 80
- Stage 1 hypertension: A reading ranging from 130 to 139 or 80 to 89
- Stage 2 hypertension: A reading ranging from 140 or higher or 90
- Hypertensive crisis : A reading higher than 180 and/or 120
*If you have an electronic blood pressure machine and would like to measure your blood pressure at home, please follow The American Heart Associations guidelines:
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Treatment Of High Blood Pressure
Treatment for HBP depends on its severity and associated risks of developing other diseases. Treatment options include:
- Make and keep appointments to see your doctor for routine check-ups and follow-up tests.
- ACE inhibitors will help blood vessels relax and open up, leading to a lower blood pressure.
- Angiotensin II receptor blockers will help blood vessels open up, leading to a lower blood pressure.
- Beta blockers will help reduce your blood pressure.
- Alpha blockers will help reduce the arteries resistance, relaxing the muscle tone of the vascular walls.
- Alpha-2 receptor agonists will help reduce blood pressure by decreasing the activity of the sympathetic portion of the involuntary nervous system.
- Calcium channel blockers will help relax and open up narrowed blood vessels, reduce heart rate and lower blood pressure.
- Combined alpha and beta blockers are used as an IV drip for those patients experiencing a hypertensive crisis.
- Central agonists will help decrease the blood vessels ability to tense up or contract.
- Diuretics water pills will help reduce the amount of fluid retention in your body.
- Peripheral adrenergic inhibitors will help reduce blood pressure by blocking neurotransmitters in the brain.
- Vasodilators will help the muscle in the walls of the blood vessels to relax, allowing the vessel to dilate.
At What Point Does High Blood Pressure Cause A Problem For People With Diabetes
If your resting blood pressure level is above the targets, this puts you at an increased risk of heart and vascular problems as well as other diabetes complications, such as kidney disease and sight damage .
High blood pressure is also associated with poor circulation which increases the risk of foot ulcers and can lead to foot amputation if regular foot care is not taken.
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How Can You Reduce Your Risk Of High Blood Pressure
Fortunately, there are certain things you can do to help reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure. These include the following:
- Eat right: A healthy diet is an important step in keeping your blood pressure normal. The DASH diet emphasizes adding fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to your diet while reducing the amount of sodium. Since it is 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.
- Keep a healthy weight: Going hand-in-hand with a proper diet is keeping a healthy weight. Since being overweight increases your blood pressure, losing excess weight with diet and exercise will help lower your blood pressure to healthier levels.
- Cut down on salt: The recommendation for salt in your diet is to have less than 2,400 milligrams of sodium a day . To prevent hypertension, you should keep your salt intake below this level. 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 do not add salt at the table.
- Keep active: Even simple physical activities, such as walking, can lower your blood pressure .
- Drinkalcoholin moderation: Having more than one drink a day and two drinks a day can raise blood pressure.
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 range from mild to serious. The forms of high blood pressure during pregnancy include:
Chronic hypertension: High blood pressure which is present prior to pregnancy.
Chronic hypertension with superimposed preeclampsia: Preeclampsia, which develops in someone who has chronic hypertension .
Gestational hypertension: High blood pressure in the latter part of pregnancy, but no other signs or symptoms of preeclampsia are present. Some women will later develop preeclampsia, while others probably have high blood pressure before the pregnancy.
Preeclampsia: This is found in the latter half of pregnancy and results in hypertension, protein in the urine and generalized swelling in the mother. It can affect other organs in the body and cause seizures .
Your blood pressure will be checked regularly during prenatal appointments, but if you have concerns about your blood pressure, be sure to talk with your provider.
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What Is A Normal Blood Pressure
Both the American Heart Association and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force have published guidelines for defining healthy and elevated blood pressure. You can follow either guidelines, depending on what you and your doctor agree is acceptable.
|USPSTF Guidelines for Blood Pressure|
|Normal||Systolic: Less than 120 mm Hg Diastolic:Less than 80 mm Hg|
|Elevated||Diastolic: < Less than 80 mm Hg|
|AHA Guidelines for Blood Pressure|
|Normal||Systolic: Less than 120 mm Hg Diastolic: Less than 80 mm Hg|
|Elevated||Diastolic: Less than 80 mm Hg|
|High Blood Pressure Stage 1||Systolic: 130-139 mm Hg|
|High Blood Pressure Stage 2||Systolic: 140 mm Hg or higher Diastolic: 90 mm Hg or higher|
|Hypertensive Crisis||Systolic: Higher than 180 mm Hg Diastolic: Higher than 120 mm Hg|