What Causes High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure causes are usually related to medical conditions, diet and lifestyle, although an exact explanation cannot always be determined. Being overweight, consuming too much salt, not exercising regularly, smoking and drinking to excess can all be causes of high blood pressure, as can underlying health conditions including diabetes, kidney disease and hormone problems. Certain medicines may also lead to high blood pressure2.
Some individuals may be at an increased risk of high blood pressure. This includes overweight individuals, smokers, those with long-term sleep deprivation and those with a family history of high blood pressure. Individuals from an African or Caribbean origin also have a higher risk of developing hypertension, as do older individuals as the risk increases as you age.
Negative Effects Of Uncontrolled High Blood Pressure
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about one out of every three American adults have high blood pressure, or hypertension. Because high blood pressure is so common, it might be tempting to assume that its no big deal. But the truth is, that when left untreated, high blood pressure can put you at risk for potentially life-threatening complications.
Here are eight ways that uncontrolled high blood pressure can negatively affect your health:
What Are Common Symptoms Of Hypertension
Hypertension is called a “silent killer”. Most people with hypertension are unaware of the problem because it may have no warning signs or symptoms. For this reason, it is essential that blood pressure is measured regularly.
When symptoms do occur, they can include early morning headaches, nosebleeds, irregular heart rhythms, vision changes, and buzzing in the ears. Severe hypertension can cause fatigue, nausea, vomiting, confusion, anxiety, chest pain, and muscle tremors.
The only way to detect hypertension is to have a health professional measure blood pressure. Having blood pressure measured is quick and painless. Although individuals can measure their own blood pressure using automated devices, an evaluation by a health professional is important for assessment of risk and associated conditions.
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What Is High Blood Pressure In Children
Although it’s most common in older adults, hypertension can also affect children. The normal blood pressure for a child is dependent upon the child’s age, gender, and height. Your doctor can tell if your child’s blood pressure is abnormal. Children are at higher risk for hypertension if they are overweight, African-American, or if they have a family history of the condition. Children with high blood pressure may benefit from the DASH diet and taking medications. Children with high blood pressure should also maintain a healthy weight and avoid tobacco smoke.
Is There A Cure For High Blood Pressure Can You Die
Lifelong control of hypertension will minimize the risk of developing heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, blindness, and a variety of other illnesses. Unlike other illnesses in which medications are taken for only a short period of time, high blood pressure medication is usually expected to be taken for the rest of the individual’s life. It is uncommon, but not rare, that significant lifestyle changes can lower blood pressure readings to normal.
Untreated or poorly controlled high blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure. That is why high blood pressure is called “the silent killer.”
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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.
How To Monitor Your Blood Pressure At Home
You can monitor your blood pressure from your home. However, there are many factors which can alter your results. The American Heart Association suggests keeping a blood pressure journal to provide a complete picture of your results over time. For the monitor, they recommend using an automatic, cuff-style reader that goes over your upper arm.
For best results, keep the following tips in mind.
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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.
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 drug pressure lowering medications are:
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors block the production 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 , 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 , 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, chlorothiazide.
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Developing A Healthy Diet
A heart-healthy diet is vital for helping to reduce high blood pressure. Its also important for managing hypertension that is under control and reducing the risk of complications. These complications include heart disease, stroke, and heart attack.
A heart-healthy diet emphasizes foods that include:
- lean proteins like fish
What Tests Diagnose High Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is measured with a blood pressure cuff . This may be done using a stethoscope and a cuff and gauge or by an automatic machine. It is a routine part of the physical examination and one of the vital signs often recorded for a patient visit. Other vital signs include pulse rate, respiratory rate , temperature, and weight.
The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology recommend specific steps to measure blood pressure in a medical setting.
- The patient should relax in a chair for at least five minutes, with the back supported and feet on the floor
- The patient should not have had caffeine, tobacco products or participated in any exercise for at least 30 minutes before the blood pressure check
- The patient should not talk for the five minute rest period
- The blood pressure cuff should not be placed over clothing instead it should be placed directly on the skin
- The arm being tested should be supported or be rested on a table or arm rest
- The cuff being used should be the appropriate size for the patient
- Blood pressure should be checked at least two times, separated by 1-2 minutes, and an average taken to estimate that personâs blood pressure
- For the first visit for a blood pressure check, the blood pressure reading should be measured in both arms and the higher of the two readings should be used to decide upon treatment
Other studies may be considered depending upon the individual patient’s needs
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What Are Some Unexpected Symptoms Of High Blood Pressure
Lead pharmacist at Medino, Giulia Guerrini told Express.co.uk that some signs of high blood pressure can often be mistaken for symptoms of other illnesses.
She explained: High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, can often lead to you experiencing some unexpected symptoms that commonly occur from other illnesses.
Difficulty breathing and chest pains are some of these symptoms, alongside an irregular heartbeat, vision problems and fatigue.
Lead GP at digital healthcare provider Livi, Dr Rhianna McClymont, also noted some rather unexpected symptoms which, although uncommon, can also crop up.
She told Express.co.uk: Some people may experience headaches, nosebleeds, blurred vision, chest pain, shortness of breath or dizziness.
However, in some cases, the illness may have no signs at all which is what can make it so dangerous.
This is why it is so important to have your blood pressure taken frequently.
Ms Guerrini said: Hypertension is often known as the silent killer, as many dont realise that theyre suffering with it until its too late.
There arent many warning signs of hypertension, as the symptoms appear after hypertension has been severe for an extended period of time.
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Early Warning Sign: Elevated Blood Pressure
An elevated blood pressure reading means that your blood pressure falls just above the normal level, corresponding to a systolic pressure between 120 and 129 or a diastolic pressure of 80 or less. The new guidelines eliminate the previous category of prehypertension. About one-fourth of Americans have elevated levels and they have two times the risk of heart disease compared with those who have lower blood pressures. Lifestyle changes can help many people with prehypertension lower their blood pressure.
Factors that increase your blood pressure can cause elevated levels. Medications such as birth control pills, cold remedies, decongestants, over-the-counter pain relievers, and some prescription drugs may cause a temporary rise in blood pressure. The buildup of fatty deposits in the arteries can also lead to prehypertension. Other conditions that may lead to prehypertension include the following:
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Thyroid disease
There are usually no symptoms with elevated blood pressure. The only way to keep track of your blood pressure is to visit your doctor regularly and have your blood pressure checked.
- Losing weight if overweight or obese
- Eating a healthy, low-salt diet
- Exercise regularly
- Quit smoking
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Research For Your Health
The NHLBI is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Institutes of Health the Nations biomedical research agency that makes important scientific discovery to improve health and save lives. We are committed to advancing science and translating discoveries into clinical practice to promote the prevention and treatment of heart, lung, blood, and sleep disorders, including high blood pressure. Learn about the current and future NHLBI efforts to improve health through research and scientific discovery.
Causes Of High Blood Pressure
Although the exact cause is unknown, certain conditions, traits or habits may raise your risk for the condition. These are known as risk factors and include:
Non-modifiable risk factors: These factors are irreversible and cannot be changed. The more of these risk factors you have, the greater your chance of developing HBP.
- Starting at age 18, ask your doctor for a blood pressure reading at least every two years. If you’re age 40 or older, or you’re 18 to 39 with a high risk of high blood pressure, ask your doctor for a blood pressure reading every year.
- Family history/Genetics
- African Americans and non-white Hispanic Americans are at higher risk for developing high blood pressure than any other group in the U.S.
Modifiable risk factors: These factors can be modified, treated or controlled through medications or lifestyle changes.
- Excessive alcohol consumption over many years.
- Little to no physical activity
- Excessive amounts of salt in diet that excess the recommended amounts of 1,500 to 2,300 mg of sodium per day.
- Long history of smoking and/or drug abuse
- Extreme emotional stress
Other conditions that contribute to developing high blood pressure
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What Can I Do To Prevent Or Manage High Blood Pressure
Many people with high blood pressure can lower their blood pressure into a healthy range or keep their numbers in a healthy range by making lifestyle changes. Talk with your health care team about
- Getting at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week
- Not smoking
- Managing stress
In addition to making positive lifestyle changes, some people with high blood pressure need to take medicine to manage their blood pressure. Learn more about medicines for high blood pressure.
Talk with your health care team right away if you think you have high blood pressure or if youve been told you have high blood pressure but do not have it under control.
What Are The Complications Of Uncontrolled Hypertension
- Chest pain, also called angina.
- Heart attack, which occurs when the blood supply to the heart is blocked and heart muscle cells die from lack of oxygen. The longer the blood flow is blocked, the greater the damage to the heart.
- Heart failure, which occurs when the heart cannot pump enough blood and oxygen to other vital body organs.
- Irregular heart beat which can lead to a sudden death.
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British Columbia Specific Information
High blood pressure, also called hypertension, can damage your blood vessels, heart and kidneys. This damage can cause a heart attack, stroke or other health problems. Your blood pressure reading is based on two measurements called systolic and diastolic. The systolic and diastolic are written as a ratio, for example . A reading of more than 140/90 mmHg taken at your healthcare providers office may indicate high blood pressure. This figure is different for people with diabetes whose blood pressure should be below 130/80 mmHg. People suffering from other illnesses will have different target normal values. For more information on hypertension, visit the Heart & Stroke Foundation and Hypertension Canada.
Healthy lifestyle choices can help lower your blood pressure and improve your health. For information on healthy eating for lowering your blood pressure, see:
Do I Have High Blood Pressure
One reason to visit your doctor regularly is to have your blood pressure checked. Routine checks of your blood pressure will help pick up an early rise in blood pressure, even though you might feel fine. If there’s an indication that your blood pressure is high at two or more checkups, the doctor may ask you to check your blood pressure at home at different times of the day. If the pressure stays high, even when you are relaxed, the doctor may suggest exercise, changes in your diet, and, most likely, medications.
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Looking For A List Of Symptoms
If you are looking for a list of symptoms and signs of high blood pressure , you wont find them here. This is because most of the time, there are none.
Myth: People with high blood pressure will experience symptoms, like nervousness, sweating, difficulty sleeping or facial flushing.
Truth: High blood pressure is a largely symptomless silent killer. If you ignore your blood pressure because you think a certain symptom or sign will alert you to the problem, you are taking a dangerous chance with your life.
What Causes A Hypertension
Blood pressure is given as a reading of two numbers, such as 110/70. The higher number is the pressure when the heart beats. The diastolic, or lower number shows the pressure between the heartbeats, while the relaxed heart is refilling with blood. Normal blood pressure readings are lower than 120/80. The cause of most hypertension is unknown. Occasionally, conditions of the kidney or adrenal gland are the cause of high blood pressure.
There are several factors that may cause high blood pressure, but the exact cause is unknown. The following factors may increase one’s risk for high blood pressure:
- Sleep apnea
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