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What Constitutes High Blood Pressure

What Are The Types Of High Blood Pressure

High Blood Pressure: Definition and Treatment

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.

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.

What Is Normal Blood Pressure

A blood pressure reading is written like this: 120/80. It’s read as “120 over 80.” The top number is called the systolic, and bottom number is called the diastolic. The ranges are:

  • Normal: Less than 120 over 80
  • Elevated: 120-129/less than 80
  • Stage 1 high blood pressure: 130-139/80-89
  • Stage 2 high blood pressure: 140 and above/90 and above
  • Hypertension crisis: higher than 180/higher than 120 — See a doctor right away

If your blood pressure is above the normal range, talk to your doctor about how to lower it.

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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 Constitutes High Blood Pressure

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

High blood pressure, also called hypertension, happens when the heart pumps blood against the artery walls at higher pressures than normal. It doesnt cause any symptoms, so the only way to know whether its high is to check it. But it isnt diagnosed from just one reading. You need at least two or more readings on two or more separate days before you can know whether you have high blood pressure. This is because your blood pressure changes from day to day and throughout each day, depending on what youre doing. It can increase temporarily from:

  • Caffeine

  • Stress or anxiety

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Symptoms Of Low Blood Pressure

Most doctors will only consider chronically low blood pressure as dangerous if it causes noticeable signs and symptoms, such as:

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Fainting
  • Dehydration and unusual thirst
  • Dehydration can sometimes cause blood pressure to drop. However, dehydration does not always cause low blood pressure. Fever, vomiting, severe diarrhea, overuse of diuretics and strenuous exercise can all lead to dehydration, a potentially serious condition in which your body loses more water than you take in. Even mild dehydration can cause weakness, dizziness and fatigue.
  • Lack of concentration
  • Depression

Improving Health With Current Research

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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What Are The Symptoms Of High Blood Pressure In Women

High blood pressure, also known as HBP or hypertension, is widely misunderstood and is called the silent killer because there can often be no symptoms. We often assume it affects those who are type-A personalities, tense and aggressive. But the truth is, it has nothing to do with personality traits. In fact, you can be the most relaxed, calm person and still suffer from HBP.

Blood Pressure Is Typically Recorded As Two Numbers And A Written As A Ratio

High blood pressure: Medication or lifestyle changes to lower it? Part 2
  • Systolic: The top number in the ratio, which is also the higher of the two, measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats.
  • Diastolic: The bottom number in the ratio, which is also the lower of the two, measures the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats.

Your blood pressure rises with each heartbeat and falls when your heart relaxes between beats. While it can change from minute to minute with changes in posture, exercise, stress or sleep, it should normally be less than 120/80 mm Hg for women or men aged 20 or over.

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Whats A Normal Blood Pressure

Remember those systolic and diastolic numbers? They help doctors figure out if your blood pressure is healthy or not.

Although some medical organizations refer to slightly different guidelines, Rivara says there are three main blood pressure categories you should know about: normal , elevated and hypertension .

If your blood pressure is above 130/80, your doctor will further categorize you into stage 1 hypertension , stage 2 hypertension or hypertensive crisis .

Theres a catch to all this, though. Various factors like stress and sometimes even anxiety about seeing a doctor can temporarily raise your blood pressure, which isnt exactly helpful in terms of getting an accurate reading.

Thats why a doctor will only diagnose you with hypertension if your blood pressure measures in the high range on more than one occasion.A single elevated blood pressure doesnt mean you necessarily have hypertension, Rivara explains. If we measure it once, well have you come back in a couple of weeks or a month to see if we can confirm you have a high blood pressure.

High Blood Pressure In Older People

The target blood pressure reading for the over-80s is below 150/90 mmHg when it’s measured in the clinic or surgery, and below 145/85 mmHg for home readings.

While there are definite benefits from taking medicines to reduce blood pressure if you’re under the age of 80, it’s less clear it’s useful if you’re over 80.

It’s now thought that if you reach 80 while you’re taking medicine for high blood pressure, it’s fine to continue treatment provided it’s still helping you and is not causing side effects.

If you’re diagnosed with high blood pressure and you’re aged over 80, your doctor will also consider your other health risk factors when deciding whether to give you treatment for the high blood pressure.

Page last reviewed: 23 October 2019 Next review due: 23 October 2022

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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.

Managing High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy

What Does my Blood Pressure Reading Mean?

As part of your regular prenatal care, your doctor will measure your blood pressure at each visit. Learn more about how to prepare for a blood pressure test.

If you have high blood pressure, your doctor will closely monitor you and your baby and provide special care to lower the chance of complications. You may need to:

  • Check your blood pressure at home. Visit Measure Your Blood Pressure for more information.
  • Keep track of how many times you feel the baby kicking each day.
  • Limit your physical activity. Talk to your doctor about what level of physical activity is right for you.
  • Take medicine to control your blood pressure. If you do, talk to your doctor about which medicines are safe for your baby. These medicines may include calcium-channel blockers , taken by mouth, or beta blockers or vasodilators , given through an IV.
  • Take aspirin in the second trimester, if you are at risk of preeclampsia and your doctor recommends aspirin.
  • Visit your doctor more often to monitor your condition and your babys growth rate and heart rate. He or she may order blood and urine tests to check how well your organs are working, which can help detect preeclampsia.

If your doctor is concerned about you or your babys health, they may recommend that you deliver your baby before 39 weeks. You may need to stay in the hospital to get medicine that will help your babys lungs develop faster and to be monitored before and after you deliver your baby.

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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.

When Is Blood Pressure Medication Right For You

There are situations, however, when your doctor might recommend medication to help treat and manage your high blood pressure.

We think about medications for two main reasons, Rivara says. One would be if someone with mild hypertension has not had an improvement with non-medication therapies. The other is if someone starts with stage 2 hypertension, in general, we recommend starting medication therapy. But if someone feels strongly about working on lifestyle changes first, well work with them to do that.

If you decide to start blood pressure medication, you and your doctor can discuss potential side effects and future plans to figure out what might work best for you. As you get older or your condition changes, you may need to consider changing or adding medications, too.

Medication therapy for hypertension has been shown to improve health outcomes for patients, Rivara says. For anyone with hypertension, its more important than ever to maintain regular contact with your primary care provider to get help monitoring your blood pressure and health.

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How Can I Control My Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is very common in older people. As we age, our vascular system changes. Arteries get stiffer, so blood pressure goes up. This is true even for people who have heart-healthy habits. The good news is that blood pressure can be controlled in most people.

There are many lifestyle changes you can make to lower your risk of high blood pressure:

If these lifestyle changes don’t lower your blood pressure to a safe level, your doctor will also prescribe medicine. You may try several kinds or combinations of medicines before finding a plan that works best for you. Medicine can control your blood pressure, but it can’t cure it. You will likely need to take medicine for the rest of your life. Plan with your doctor how to manage your blood pressure.

Treating High Blood Pressure

What is a LOW and HIGH blood pressure (Hypertension) | Doctor Explains

Treatment for high blood pressure will depend on your blood pressure levels and your associated risk of developing a cardiovascular disease, such as a heart attack or stroke.

There are seven main risk factors for developing a cardiovascular disease. These are:

  • age
  • smoking
  • obesity
  • having a high level of cholesterol in your blood
  • having a family history of cardiovascular disease .

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Confirming High Blood Pressure

To diagnose high blood pressure, your doctor will take two or more readings at separate medical appointments. Learn more about screening for high blood pressure, including how to take it yourself.

For most adults, a normal blood pressure is less than 120/80 mm Hg. Your doctor may diagnose you with high blood pressure when you have consistent systolic readings of 130 mm Hg or higher or diastolic readings of 80 mm Hg or higher.

How Important Is My Family History

In addition to asking about diet, exercise, and other lifestyle habits, your doctor will also ask you about your family history if your blood pressure is high, Dr. Appelbaum says.

If your parents had high blood pressure or heart disease, we know you are at greater risk, so this guides our treatment decisions, he says.

We try to assess cardiovascular risk, and if they or a close family member has diabetes and hypertension, it magnifies things, and we proceed faster with medication than if its just hypertension by itself, Dr. Mintz agrees.

And it turns out that your grandparents heart health matters too. A 2017 study in the European Heart Journal suggests that the risk of high blood pressure is not only passed down from parent to child, but also from grandparent to grandchild. Specifically, high blood pressure before age 55 in grandparents was associated with the presence of hypertension in a grandchild. This held even after researchers controlled for other risk factors such as physical activity, salt intake, and alcohol.

Whats more, grandkids rarely lived in the same town as their grandparents, suggesting that they dont share an environment. This study points to a large role of genes in high blood pressure that still needs to be analyzed.

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Treating High Blood Pressure With Medicines

If lifestyle changes don’t lower your blood pressure to your goal, you may need to take daily medicines as well.

Medicines controlbut usually don’t curehigh blood pressure. So you will probably need to take them for the rest of your life. Most people need to take two or more medicines.

  • High Blood Pressure: Should I Take Medicine?

Some people find it hard to take their medicines properly. They may feel it’s too much troubleespecially when they don’t feel sick. Or they’re worried about side effects. Some people find it hard to keep track of when and how to take their medicines.

If you have trouble taking high blood pressure medicines for any reason, talk to your doctor.

Read more about Tyrell and why he started taking his medicines properly.

Can High Blood Pressure Be Prevented Or Avoided

What you donât know about high blood pressure can kill you ...

If your high blood pressure is caused by lifestyle factors, you can take steps to reduce your risk:

  • Lose weight.
  • Reduce your alcohol consumption.
  • Learn relaxation methods.

If your high blood pressure is caused by disease or the medicine you take, talk to your doctor. He or she may be able to prescribe a different medicine. Additionally, treating any underlying disease can help reduce your high blood pressure.

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What Numbers Mean High Blood Pressure What Numbers Mean Normal Blood Pressure

Normal blood pressure is at or under 120 over 80.

In November 2017, blood pressure guidelines were modified. Any blood pressure measurement at or above 130 over 80 is now considered high. And thats what we in the medical community call hypertension. These numbers are down from the old recommendation of 140 over 90.

In the past, many people in the United States were considered prehypertension. The new recommendations get rid of that category, and now almost half of U.S. adults fall into the category of hypertension. That could seem shocking. But patients who are in this category should already be discussing their blood pressure numbers with their primary care doctor. If they arent, now is a good time to connect with their medical provider and come up with a plan for treatment.

Regular Blood Pressure Checks For Over Over 40’s

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.

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Secondary High Blood Pressure

Some cases of high blood pressure are the result of underlying factors or cause and this is known as secondary high blood pressure.

Underlying factors include:

  • kidney conditions, such as a kidney infection, or kidney disease
  • narrowing of the arteries
  • hormonal conditions, such as Cushing’s syndrome
  • conditions that affect the bodys tissue, such as lupus
  • medication, such as the oral contraceptive pill, or the type of painkillers that are known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , such as ibuprofen
  • recreational drugs, such as cocaine, amphetamines and crystal meth

Occasionally, a rise in blood pressure can result from taking herbal remedies, such as herbal supplements.

What Diet Helps Control High Blood Pressure

What are the Symptoms of High Blood Pressure Hypertension
  • Eat foods that are lower in fat, salt and calories, such as skim or 1% milk, fresh vegetables and fruits, and whole grain rice, and pasta.
  • Use flavorings, spices and herbs to make foods tasty without using salt. The optimal recommendation for salt in your diet is to have less than 1500 milligrams of sodium a day. 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.
  • Avoid or cut down on butter and margarine, regular salad dressings, fatty meats, whole milk dairy products, fried foods, processed foods or fast foods, and salted snacks.
  • Ask your provider if you should increase potassium in your diet Discuss the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet with your provider. 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.

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