What Does It Mean To Have High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure or hypertension is a medical condition where your blood pressure numbers are consistently above normal.
However, your blood pressure naturally rises and falls throughout the day. It could go up in the doctor’s office if you have “white coat hypertension” or anxiety around medical professionals. Or you could have “masked hypertension” if your blood pressure is normal during a checkup but becomes higher later at work or home. That’s why to confirm a diagnosis of elevated blood pressure, yours will need to be measured with a blood pressure cuff multiple times under controlled conditions, says Dr. Lam.
A doctor can detect and treat high blood pressure depending on which stage you’re in, per the AHA. Here’s what each stage means:
What Does High Blood Pressure Feel Like
High blood pressure often doesn’t have any symptoms, so you usually don’t feel it.
Hypertension is usually diagnosed by a health care professional during a routine checkup. The average person should get a blood pressure reading at least once a year. As a cardiologist, I think its important for everyone to know their numbers. That means knowing what your blood pressure is. And it also means knowing your blood sugar level, cholesterol and body mass index. When you know your numbers, you can work with your doctor to make a plan to reduce any risks.
Blood pressure is even more important to pay attention to, though, if you have a close relative with hypertension or other risk factors. And know that if your blood pressure is extremely high, you may have unusually severe headaches, chest pain, difficulty breathing or get easily worn out by workouts. If you have any of these symptoms, see your doctor right away.
Ambulatory Blood Pressure Readings
These are readings taken at regular intervals whilst you go about your normal activities. A small machine that is attached to your arm takes and records the readings, usually over a 24-hour period.
As a rule, an average of the ambulatory blood pressure readings gives the truest account of your usual blood pressure. Home blood pressure readings are a good substitute if an ambulatory machine is not available. Ambulatory and home readings are often a bit lower than clinic or GP surgery readings. Sometimes they are a lot lower. This is because people are often much more relaxed and less stressed at home than in a formal clinic or surgery situation.
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What Are The Types Of High Blood Pressure
If you have high blood pressure with no known single cause, this is called essential hypertension or primary hypertension. Most people have this type of hypertension. If you have high blood pressure which is caused by another health problem, this is known as secondary hypertension, and treating the cause should bring your blood pressure back down to normal.
This Is High Blood Pressure
When your heart beats, it pumps blood around your body to give it the energy and oxygen it needs. As the blood moves, it pushes against the sides of the blood vessels. The strength of this pushing is your blood pressure. If your blood pressure is too high, it puts extra strain on your heart and blood vessels. This is called high blood pressure, or hypertension. Over time it can lead to a number of health problems including heart attacks, stroke, kidney disease and some forms of dementia. The good news is there are lots of things you can do to lower it.
High blood pressure is very common, about a third of adults in the UK have it, but many arent aware of it. It doesnt usually have any symptoms so the only way to know you have it is to have a blood pressure check.
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What Can You Do To Prevent High Blood Pressure
Making lifestyle changes can help you to prevent high blood pressure. You can:
- Stay at a healthy weight or lose extra weight.
- Eat heart-healthy foods.
- Eat less salt and salty foods.
- Exercise regularly.
- 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.
Blood Test And Detecting High Blood Pressure
A blood test can tell you many things, but having high blood pressure is not one of them. The only way to detect and diagnose high blood pressure is from measuring your blood pressure . A diagnosis of high blood pressure is made when your blood pressure is consistently measured at a high level.
There are a few different ways to measure your blood pressure. You can do it at home with a home blood pressure monitor. I highly recommend 3 affordable, high quality home monitors. You can check out my blog post on those by . In addition, blood pressure can be measured in a pharmacy, which I dont recommend or at your physicians office.
Your home blood pressure measurements can be a great benefit when determining a high blood pressure diagnosis but cant be relied on solely. Receiving accurate measurements by performing the correct techniques is critical. I wrote a whole blog post on that which you can read here. Your home blood pressure readings should be taken along with you to your next doctor appointment.
A doctor will use the following to help make a diagnosis of high blood pressure:
- Your home measurements
- The medical office BP measurements
- Medical history
- Family history
- Physical exam
The new blood pressure guidelines released in 2017, changed what measurement determines a high blood pressure reading. Blood pressure rises from elevated to High Blood Pressure Stage 1, when systolic measures 130-139 mmHg or diastolic measures 80-89 mmHg.
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What Are The Treatments For High Blood Pressure
You will work with your provider to come up with a treatment plan. It may include only the lifestyle changes. These changes, such as heart-healthy eating and exercise, can be very effective. But sometimes the changes do not control or lower your high blood pressure. Then you may need to take medicine. There are different types of blood pressure medicines. Some people need to take more than one type.
If your high blood pressure is caused by another medical condition or medicine, treating that condition or stopping the medicine may lower your blood pressure.
NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
What Are The Symptoms Of High Blood Pressure
Most people who have high blood pressure do not have symptoms. This is why its sometimes called the silent killer. It is very important to have your blood pressure checked regularly.
Some people experience headaches, nosebleeds, or shortness of breath with high blood pressure. However, those symptoms can mimic many other things . Usually, these symptoms occur once blood pressure has reached a dangerously high level over a period of time.
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How Is Blood Pressure Measured
Blood pressure is measured using a machine called a blood pressure monitor.
A cuff is put over your arm. This cuff is attached to a machine which measures the pressure inside your arteries. When the machine is switched on the cuff tightens and then slowly loosens again. It is quick and painless. At the end, the machine will give a blood pressure reading.
Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury .
A blood pressure reading contains two numbers and will be written as a figure like 120/75
The first number is the pressure when your heart beats . The second number is when your heart relaxes .
During a blood pressure test, a blood pressure cuff is wrapped around your arm so a blood pressure monitor can measure your systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Angiotensin Ii Receptor Blockers And Erectile Dysfunction
Studies have shown that angiotensin receptor blockers either have no significant negative effects or in some cases, beneficial effects on erectile function.
ARBs are a group of drugs used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure. These medications work by blocking the action of a chemical which narrows the blood vessels. As a result, blood vessels widen, increasing blood flow and lowering blood pressure. In some people, this effect also improves erectile function.
Some common ARBs taken for high blood pressure include:
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Can A Blood Test Detect High Blood Pressure
If you have high blood pressure, a doctor will recommend a variety of tests. Its possible youll receive a urine test, cholesterol test, electrocardiogram and more than likely a blood test. But if you havent been diagnosed, can a blood test alone determine you have high blood pressure?
Can a blood test detect high blood pressure? A blood test cannot detect high blood pressure. The best way to diagnose high blood pressure is to have your blood pressure measured. A blood test may help determine the cause of your high blood pressure, any organ damage and possible treatment.
Can diagnosing high blood pressure be that simple, just measuring your blood pressure? Yes, but its a little more involved than taking one blood pressure measurement. One isolated high blood pressure reading is not enough to make a diagnosis.
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Disclaimer: Some links in this article are affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
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:
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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:
Who Is Affected By High Blood Pressure
Approximately 1 in 3, more than 100 million, American adults have high blood pressure. But only half of those people have their condition under control. Many people develop high blood pressure when they are in their late 30s or early 40s, and it occurs more frequently as people age. However, because of the obesity epidemic, more and more children are also developing high blood pressure.
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Why Is High Blood Pressure A Problem
High blood pressure puts an extra strain on your heart and blood vessels, which can damage them and make them weaker. Over time, this can lead to health problems including heart attacks, heart failure, stroke, some forms of dementia, kidney disease and peripheral arterial disease.
If you have other health problems as well as high blood pressure, such as diabetes or high cholesterol, this makes serious health problems in the future more likely, making it more important to take steps to lower your blood pressure.
Keep To A Healthy Body Weight
One of the key risk factors for high blood pressure is being overweight. Being overweight can make you 2 to 6 times more likely to develop high blood pressure than if you are in the normal weight range. Even small amounts of weight loss can make a big difference in helping to prevent and treat high blood pressure.
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What Are The Symptoms
High blood pressure doesn’t usually cause symptoms. Most people don’t know they have it until they go to the doctor for some other reason.
Very high blood pressure can cause severe headaches and vision problems. These symptoms can also be caused by dangerously high blood pressure called malignant high blood pressure. It may also be called a hypertensive crisis or hypertensive emergency. Malignant high blood pressure is a medical emergency.
Who Should Have A Blood Pressure Check
All adults should have their blood pressure checked. Blood pressure becomes more common with age, so if youre over 40 you should have a blood pressure check at least every five years. Its a good idea to have a blood pressure check if you are younger as well, especially if you are carrying extra weight or have other health problems.
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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.
What To Think About
- The medicine your doctor chooses may be based on other health problems you have. For example, doctors often prescribe ACE inhibitors for people who have diabetes or heart failure.
- Some people who get a cough while taking ACE inhibitors do well with ARBs, which usually don’t cause a cough.
- You may need to avoid some over-the-counter medicines. For example, check with your doctor before you take any non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as naproxen and ibuprofenwith high blood pressure medicines. NSAIDs may raise blood pressure and keep your blood pressure medicines from working well. NSAIDs may also interact with your blood pressure medicine and cause kidney problems.
- Don’t take any other prescription medicines, over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, or other natural health products unless you talk to your doctor first. Medicines can interact with each other and keep blood pressure medicines from working right or cause a bad reaction.
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Home Blood Pressure Testing
Blood pressure tests can also be carried out at home using your own blood pressure monitor.
Like 24-hour or ambulatory monitoring, this can give a better reflection of your blood pressure.
It can also allow you to monitor your condition more easily in the long term.
You can buy a variety of low-cost monitors so you can test your blood pressure at home or while you’re out and about.
Measure your blood pressure twice a day, ideally in the morning and the evening, while you’re sitting down.
Each time take 2 readings, 1 minute apart. Continue to measure your blood pressure twice a day for 7 days.
Your doctor or nurse will use this information to work out your average blood pressure.
It’s important to make sure you use equipment that’s been properly tested.
The British Hypertension Society has information about validated blood pressure monitors that are available to buy.
What If Lifestyle Changes Dont Help Lower My Blood Pressure
If diet, exercise and other lifestyle changes dont work to lower your blood pressure, your healthcare provider prescribe hypertension medications. Your provider will take into account these drugs effect on other conditions you may have, such as heart or kidney disease, and other drugs youre taking.
You might need to take hypertension medicine from now on. Be sure to follow your providers dosing directions exactly.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/20/2020.
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Natural High Blood Pressure Remedies
There are also natural remedies to interject into your daily lifestyle to regulate blood pressure and prevent cases of sudden high blood pressure. Be sure to discuss the use of the following products with your doctor in addition to your health regimen.
To prevent a blockage of blood vessels, consume celery daily. It contains phytochemicals that relax the muscles, allowing a smoother blood flow.
2. Fenugreek Seeds
This spice has fiber to help maintain blood pressure levels. Boil one to two spoonsful of seeds in water to create a paste. Consume one tablespoon per day.
4. Coconut Water
Drink daily as a source of vitamin C, magnesium, and potassium to lower blood pressure.
One of natures best immune system boosters, garlic is a blood thinner. Use at least four grams per day.
A person with high blood pressure is at risk for various health conditions including heart disease. If your high blood pressure numbers rise suddenly, it could indicate an underlying condition that requires immediate medical attention. There are certain medications and hormonal changes that can stimulate an increase in pressure without causing alarm.
If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, talk to your doctor about lifestyle changes and natural remedies in addition to your prescribed health regimen.