How Do I Know If I Have High Blood Pressure
Theres only one way to know if you have high blood pressure: Have a doctor or other health professional measure it. Measuring your blood pressure is quick and painless.
Talk with your health care team about regularly measuring your blood pressure at home, also called self-measured blood pressure monitoring.
High blood pressure is called the silent killer because it usually has no warning signs or symptoms, and many people do not know they have it.
Blood Pressure Checks During Pregnancy
If you are pregnant, you should have your blood pressure checked on a regular basis, even if it is not high.
Watching your blood pressure while you are pregnant reduces your risk of developing pregnancy-induced hypertension. This can lead to a serious condition called pre-eclampsia where there is a problem with the placenta .
Blood Pressure Is Linked To Other Medical Issues
High blood pressure can be the first indication of a serious underlying condition. When a patient comes in with high blood pressure, doctors will check their urine and kidney function do an electrocardiogram to check the size of the heart and look for lung changes.
Stress on the blood vessels makes people with hypertension more prone to heart disease, peripheral vascular disease, heart attack, stroke, kidney disease and aneurysms. Correspondingly, chronic conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease, sleep apnea and high cholesterol increase the risk for developing high blood pressure.
In some women, pregnancy can contribute to high blood pressure, leading to preeclampsia. Postpartum blood pressure typically goes back to normal levels within six weeks. However, some women who have high blood pressure during more than one pregnancy may be more likely to develop high blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases as they age.
Some of these medical issues can also cause spikes in high blood pressure .
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What Do Blood Pressure Numbers Indicate
The higher number represents the pressure while the heart is beating.
The lower number represents the pressure when the heart is resting between beats.
The systolic pressure is always stated first and the diastolic pressure second. For example if a persons blood pressure is 122/76 , the systolic pressure is 122 and the diastolic pressure is 76.
Drink Alcohol In Moderation
Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol will increase your blood pressure and raise the cholesterol levels in your blood.
Sticking to the recommended amounts of alcohol consumption is the best way to reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure.
The recommended daily limits of alcohol consumption are:
- 3 to 4 units of alcohol for men
- 2 to 3 units of alcohol for women.
A unit of alcohol is equal to about half a pint of normal-strength lager, a small glass of wine or a pub measure or spirits.
More about drinking alcohol reponsibly
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What Diet Helps Control High Blood Pressure
- 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 1,500 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. Dont add salt at the table.
- Avoid or cut down on foods high in fat or salt, such as 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 its 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.
Can High Blood Pressure Be Prevented Or Avoided
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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How Is High Blood Pressure Controlled
These steps can help you control your blood pressure:
Take prescribed medicine exactly as directed by your healthcare provider
Choose foods that are low in sodium
Choose foods low in calories and fat
Choose foods high in fiber
Maintain a healthy weight, or losing weight if overweight
Limit serving sizes
Increase physical activity
Reduce or omit alcoholic beverages
Sometimes daily medicine is needed to control high blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, have your blood pressure checked routinely and see your healthcare provider to monitor the condition.
High Blood Pressure Treatment
The best way to lower blood pressure begins with changes you can make to your lifestyle to help lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease. Additionally, your doctor may prescribe medicine to lower your blood pressure. These are called antihypertensive medicines.
The goal of treatment is to reduce your blood pressure to normal levels. Your doctor may prescribe medicine thats easy to take and has few, if any, side effects. This treatment is highly successful. If your blood pressure can only be controlled with medicine, youll need to take the medicine for the rest of your life. It is common to need more than one medicine to help control your blood pressure. Dont stop taking the medicine without talking with your doctor. Otherwise, you may increase your risk of having a stroke or heart attack.
Causes Of Secondary Hypertension
When high blood pressure arises suddenly due to an identifiable condition, its called secondary hypertension.
Some conditions and drugs can lead to secondary hypertension, including the following:
- Kidney problems
HormonesBirth control pills can also affect blood pressure. Women who take birth control pills usually experience a small rise in systolic and diastolic blood pressure .
Hormone therapy used to relieve symptoms of menopause can also cause a small rise in systolic blood pressure.
If you know you have high blood pressure, but are considering hormone therapy, talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits of undergoing hormone therapy, as well as the best ways to control your blood pressure.
Additionally, some recreational and illegal drugs, such as cocaine, ecstasy , and amphetamines, are also known to increase blood pressure.
What Are The Symptoms Of Hypertension
Hypertension is generally a silent condition. Many people wont experience any symptoms. It may take years or even decades for the condition to reach levels severe enough that symptoms become obvious. Even then, these symptoms may be attributed to other issues.
of severe hypertension can include:
According to the American Heart Association , contrary to popular thought, severe hypertension doesnt typically cause nosebleeds or headaches except when someone is in hypertensive crisis.
The best way to know if you have hypertension is to get regular blood pressure readings. Most doctors offices take a blood pressure reading at every appointment.
If you only have a yearly physical, talk with your doctor about your risks for hypertension and other readings you may need to help you watch your blood pressure.
For example, if you have a family history of heart disease or have risk factors for developing the condition, your doctor may recommend that you have your blood pressure checked twice a year. This helps you and your doctor stay on top of any possible issues before they become problematic.
There are two types of hypertension. Each type has a different cause.
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About High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is usually defined as having a sustained blood pressure of 140/90mmHg or above.
The line between normal and raised blood pressure is not fixed and depends on your individual circumstances. However, most doctors agree that the ideal blood pressure for a physically healthy person is around 120/80mmHg.
A normal blood pressure reading is classed as less than 130/80mmHg.
Legs Hips And Stomach
Narrow and blocked arteries in the lower part of your body — especially your legs — can cause pain and cramping. Because it’s affecting blood vessels that aren’t near your heart, your doctor may call this peripheral artery disease . It can make muscles in your legs and hips sore and tired when you walk or climb stairs.
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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.
What Are Clinical Trials For High Blood Pressure And Kidney Disease
Clinical trialsand other types of clinical studiesare part of medical research and involve people like you. When you volunteer to take part in a clinical study, you help doctors and researchers learn more about disease and improve health care for people in the future.
Researchers are studying many aspects of high blood pressure and kidney disease, such as
- managing high blood pressure through diet, education, and counseling in patients with kidney disease
- testing new medications to treat high blood pressure and kidney disease
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High Blood Pressure And Older Adults
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High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a major health problem that is common in older adults. Your bodys network of blood vessels, known as the vascular system, changes with age. Arteries get stiffer, causing blood pressure to go up. This can be true even for people who have heart-healthy habits and feel just fine. High blood pressure, sometimes called “the silent killer,” often does not cause signs of illness that you can see or feel. Though it affects nearly half of all adults, many may not even be aware they have it.
If high blood pressure isn’t controlled with lifestyle changes and medication, it can lead to serious health problems, including cardiovascular disease such as heart disease and stroke, vascular dementia, eye problems, and kidney disease. The good news is that blood pressure can be controlled in most people.
How Is It Treated
For most people, the goal is to reduce the blood pressure to less than 140/90. If you have diabetes or kidney disease, the goal is less than 130/80 mm Hg.
If your blood pressure is above normal , you may be able to bring it down to a normal level without medicine. Weight loss, changes in your diet, and exercise may be the only treatment you need. If you also have diabetes, you may need additional treatment.
If these lifestyle changes do not lower your blood pressure enough, your healthcare provider may prescribe medicine. Some of the types of medicines that can help are diuretics, beta blockers, ACE inhibitors, calcium channel blockers, and vasodilators. These medicines work in different ways. Many people need to take 2 or more medicines to bring their blood pressure down to a healthy level.
When you start taking medicine, it is important to:
- Take the medicine regularly, exactly as prescribed.
- Tell your healthcare provider about any side effects right away.
- Have regular follow-up visits with your healthcare provider.
It may not be possible to know at first which drug or mix of drugs will work best for you. It may take several weeks or months to find the best treatment for you.
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Favorite Online Support Networks
This online support group from the American Heart Association allows you to connect with others going through an array of heart issues, including hypertension. Ask questions, share your story, and get peer support from others going through similar experiences to take control of their heart health.
How Do Blood Pressure Medicines Work
Blood pressure medicines can work several different ways. Blood pressure medicines can keep blood pressure at a healthy level by1:
- Causing your body to get rid of water, which decreases the amount of water and salt in your body to a healthy level
- Relaxing your blood vessels
- Making your heart beat with less force
- Blocking nerve activity that can restrict your blood vessels
Talk with your health care team about the best type of treatment for you. You may need to take more than one type of medicine to control your blood pressure. You can also talk to your health care team about how long it should take your blood pressure medicine to work.
It is important to take your blood pressure medicine exactly as your doctor tells you to. Do not stop taking your current medicine without talking to your doctor or pharmacist first. Stopping your blood pressure medicine without first talking to your health care team could lead to serious health consequences.
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What Do The Kidneys Do
The kidneys have several jobs. One of the most important is helping your body eliminate toxins. The kidneys filter your blood and send waste out of your body in urine.
The kidneys are bean-shaped organs about the size of your fist. They sit under your ribcage, toward your back. Most people have two working kidneys, but people can live well as long as at least one is working correctly.
When the kidneys dont work effectively, waste products build up in your body. If this happens, you might feel sick. In the most serious situations, kidney failure can be life-threatening. However, many people can manage kidney failure with the right treatment.
Good Sleep Can Prevent And Manage High Blood Pressure
Most people experience a dip in blood pressure during the deepest stage of sleep , which is the body’s normal and healthy reaction to sleep. Not having that nighttime dip is a risk factor for heart disease and may increase daytime blood pressure.
Typically people spend 90 minutes to two hours in slow wave sleep per night. A recent study published in Hypertension found that men who got less slow wave sleep each night were a higher risk for hypertension than men who got more deep sleep.
While sleep disorders, like sleep apnea, and age can both affect the amount of deep sleep you get, there are steps you can take to ensure a good night’s sleep. Getting seven to eight hours of sleep a night, maintaining a consistent sleep schedule and being more active during the day can help improve the quality of your sleep.
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Diuretics And Erectile Dysfunction
Diuretics, also known as water pills, increase urine output to help release excess water and salt from the blood. This helps lower blood pressure by decreasing the amount of blood the heart has to pump.
It’s unknown exactly how diuretics affect erectile function, but some research suggests that diuretics can increase the occurrence of ED. Common diuretics that are taken include:
- Inderal LA
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.
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How Can I Be More Active
- Check first with your healthcare provider before increasing your physical activity. Ask your provider what type and amount of exercise is right for you.
- Choose aerobic activities such as walking, biking or swimming.
- Start slowly and increase activity gradually. Aim for a regular routine of activity five times a week for 30 to 45 minutes each session.
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.
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