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What Does High Blood Pressure Mean

Is There Treatment For Prehypertension

High Blood Pressure: Definition and Treatment

Prehypertension is a warning sign. It means that you’re at a greater risk of high blood pressure. Depending on your blood pressure and risk factors for heart disease, you may only need to make a few lifestyle adjustments. Here are some strategies to help you manage prehypertension:

It’s important to get your blood pressure checked regularly. Know your blood pressure number. Let your doctor know if your blood pressure number is higher.

You can monitor your blood pressure between doctor’s visits with a home blood pressure monitor. Or, you can use an electronic blood pressure monitor at your local pharmacy, grocery store, or fire station.

Talk to your doctor about your blood pressure. Ask if diet and exercise can help lower your risk of getting high blood pressure.

Home Blood Pressure Monitoring

Some people buy their own blood pressure monitor to use at home. This means you can measure your blood pressure on an ongoing basis.

The blood pressure readings you do at home are as good as those done by your doctor.

If you decide to buy one, it’s important to get the correct cuff size. If the cuff is too big or too small, it can give an inaccurate reading.

If you take your own blood pressure and get an unusually high reading, take it a second time after at least five minutes. If it’s still high and you’re worried, contact your nurse or GP.

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.

References

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Tips For Managing High Blood Pressure

Theres no cure for high blood pressure, but you can successfully manage it with medication and living a healthy lifestyle, Dr. Dadabhoy says.

The following changes can help you better manage high blood pressure:

  • Monitoring your blood pressure regularly
  • Taking your medications as prescribed
  • Eating a well-balanced, low-salt diet
  • Exercising regularly
  • Maintaining a healthy weight that you and your doctor have agreed on
  • Quitting smoking
  • Increasing potassium intake, if recommended by your doctor
  • Managing stress

What Are The Different Types Of High Blood Pressure

What does your blood pressure reading mean for your health?

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.

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Traumatic Injuries Or Internal Bleeding

A traumatic brain injury or bleeding around your brain can also cause a combination of high blood pressure and a low pulse. Both injuries and bleeding increase pressure on your brain, leading to something called the Cushing reflex.

The symptoms of Cushing reflex include:

  • slow heart rate
  • high blood pressure
  • irregular or very slow breathing

If youve recently had any sort of head injury and notice these symptoms, contact a doctor right away.

When To See A Doctor

The symptoms of high blood pressure are typically silent. Many people may not find out they have high blood pressure until they visit their doctor for a routine physical. If you dont already have a primary care doctor, the Healthline FindCare tool can help you find a physician in your area.

There are many home blood pressure monitors available so that you can monitor your blood pressure at home. Some people that should consider doing this include:

  • those with a family history of high blood pressure
  • people who are overweight or obese
  • smokers
  • women who are pregnant

You should always keep a log of your readings. Its important to note that home blood pressure monitoring isnt a substitute for a doctors visit. If you find that your readings are consistently high, you should make an appointment with your doctor to discuss them.

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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.

What Does A Blood Pressure Reading Look Like

High Blood Pressure: How to Understand the Numbers

When you have your blood pressure measured, you will be given two numbers, a top number and a bottom number.

  • Systolic blood pressure. This is the first, or top, number. This is the highest level your blood pressure reaches when your heart beats, forcing blood around your body.
  • Diastolic blood pressure. The second number, or bottom number, is the lowest level your blood pressure reaches as your heart relaxes between beats.

Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury . If the first number is 120 and the second number is 80, this would be written as 120/80mmHg, and youd call it 120 over 80.

This video explains more about systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

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What Is A Pulmonary Hypertension

Abnormally elevated pressure in the pulmonary circulation is referred to as pulmonary hypertension. This condition affects the arteries in the lungs and the right side of the heart.

Pulmonary Hypertension Causes

Pulmonary hypertension is caused by changes in the cells that line the pulmonary arteries. These changes cause the walls of the arteries to become stiff and thick, extra tissue may also form. This can reduce or block blood flow through the blood vessels. Increased blood pressure is then caused because it is harder for blood to flow. Pulmonary hypertension can be an associated condition with scleroderma, sarcoidosis, pulmonary embolism, and dermatomyositis.

Pulmonary Hypertension Symptoms

Symptoms of pulmonary hypertension may not present themselves for months or years. Later on, symptoms become worse. Symptoms of pulmonary hypertension may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Diuretics
  • Oxygen

Complementary Therapies Are An Option

Meditation can lower blood pressure by putting your body into a state of deep rest. Yoga, tai chi, and deep breathing also help. Pair these relaxation techniques with other lifestyle changes, like diet and exercise. Be aware that herbal therapies may conflict with other drugs you take. Some herbs actually raise blood pressure. Tell your doctor if you take herbal or other dietary supplements.

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Diagnosing High Blood Pressure

Diagnosing hypertension is as simple as taking a blood pressure reading. Most doctors offices check blood pressure as part of a routine visit. If you dont receive a blood pressure reading at your next appointment, request one.

If your blood pressure is elevated, your doctor may request you have more readings over the course of a few days or weeks. A hypertension diagnosis is rarely given after just one reading. Your doctor needs to see evidence of a sustained problem. Thats because your environment can contribute to increased blood pressure, such as the stress you may feel by being at the doctors office. Also, blood pressure levels change throughout the day.

If your blood pressure remains high, your doctor will likely conduct more tests to rule out underlying conditions. These tests can include:

These tests can help your doctor identify any secondary issues causing your elevated blood pressure. They can also look at the effects high blood pressure may have had on your organs.

During this time, your doctor may begin treating your hypertension. Early treatment may reduce your risk of lasting damage.

Two numbers create a blood pressure reading:

Five categories define blood pressure readings for adults:

High Blood Pressure Symptoms You Shouldnt Ignore

What Do Blood Pressure Readings Mean?

Caregiver Duties Aging & Health

If youre worried about developing high blood pressure or youve already been diagnosed with this condition, you may be wondering what symptoms to watch out for.

While the symptoms described here may indicate a high blood pressure crisis, its also very important to understand that a persons blood pressure can be dangerously high and yet there are no symptoms at all, notes retired emergency physician Ben Hippen. This is why high blood pressure is sometimes called the silent killer.

For this reason, its important to monitor your blood pressure often. When youre at your doctors office, or even at the pharmacy, take a few minutes to stick your arm in the cuff and get a reading. If you can afford it and will actually use it, a home blood pressure monitor is a worthwhile investment.

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When Treatment Is Recommended

Everyone with high blood pressure is advised to make healthy lifestyle changes.

Whether medicine is also recommended depends on your blood pressure reading and your risk of developing problems such as heart attacks or strokes.

Your doctor will carry out some blood and urine tests, and ask questions about your health to determine your risk of other problems:

  • if your blood pressure is consistently above 140/90mmHg , but your risk of other problems is low you’ll be advised to make some changes to your lifestyle
  • if your blood pressure is consistently above 140/90mmHg and your risk of other problems is high you’ll be offered medicine to lower your blood pressure, in addition to lifestyle changes
  • if your blood pressure is consistently above 160/100mmHg you’ll be offered medicine to lower your blood pressure, in addition to lifestyle changes

Limit Your Alcohol Intake

Regularly drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure over time.

Staying within the recommended levels is the best way to reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure:

  • men and women are advised not to regularly drink more than 14 units a week
  • spread your drinking over 3 days or more if you drink as much as 14 units a week

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Should I Be Concerned About Having High Blood Pressure And A Low Pulse

If youre taking blood pressure medication and have slightly high blood pressure and a low pulse, this generally isnt anything to be concerned about.

But if youre not taking any medication, its best to work with a doctor to figure out whats going on. This is especially true if you have symptoms of a low pulse, such as dizziness or shortness of breath.

The typical range of 60 to 100 beats per minute is both the average pulse measurement as well as the rate at which most peoples heart needs to beat to pump enough blood through their body.

Some people may simply have a lower pulse. Examples include athletes or those in very good shape. Theyve conditioned their heart muscle to be stronger. As a result, their heart pumps more effectively, meaning it doesnt need to beat as often. Learn more about why athletes have lower pulses.

Exercising can also temporarily raise your blood pressure. So, if you exercise regularly, you may have a naturally low pulse and higher blood pressure right after you work out.

How Can You Reduce Your Risk Of High Blood Pressure

What does it mean to have high blood pressure and a low pulse?

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.

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Stroke And Brain Problems

High blood pressure can cause the arteries that supply blood and oxygen to the brain to burst or be blocked, causing a stroke. Brain cells die during a stroke because they do not get enough oxygen. Stroke can cause serious disabilities in speech, movement, and other basic activities. A stroke can also kill you.

Having high blood pressure, especially in midlife, is linked to having poorer cognitive function and dementia later in life. Learn more about the link between high blood pressure and dementia from the National Institutes of Healths Mind Your Risks®external icon campaign.

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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Checking Blood Pressure At Home

Keeping track of blood pressure at home is important for many people, especially if you have high blood pressure. This helps you and your doctor find out if your treatment is working.

Your doctor may also suggest that you check your pressure at home if they think you may have “white coat hypertension.” It’s a real condition. The stress of being in a doctor’s office raises your blood pressure, but when you’re home, it’s normal.

Ask your doctor to recommend an easy-to-use home blood pressure monitor. Make sure the cuff fits properly. If your arm is too big for the cuff, the reading may be higher than your blood pressure really is. Ask your doctor for a larger cuff or make sure you buy a home monitor with a cuff that fits you.

You also can use a wrist blood pressure monitor, but they often aren’t as accurate. Follow the directions that come with the device to make sure you are using it correctly.

No matter which type of blood pressure monitor you have, it’s a good idea to take it to your doctor’s office. You can compare its reading to the numbers your doctor gets. Avoid caffeine, cigarettes, and exercise for at least 30 minutes before the test.

When you take your blood pressure at home, sit up straight in a chair and put both feet on the floor. Ask your doctor or nurse to show you the right way to position your arm so you get accurate readings.

Regular Blood Pressure Checks For Over Over 40’s

What Do the New Blood Pressure Recommendations Mean ...

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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What Is Arbs Medication

Angiotensin receptor blockers prevent the actions of angiotensin II on the arteries. This means the arteries stay more open and blood pressure is lowered. ARBs can take a few weeks to work. Side effects can include dizziness, muscle cramps, insomnia, and elevated potassium levels. As with ACE inhibitors, women who are pregnant, planning to get pregnant, or breastfeeding should not take ARBs.

Reduce And Manage Stress

The body releases chemicals and hormones that can narrow the blood vessels temporarily when we are under stress. Stress also gets our heart beating faster. Long-term stress is thought to increase the risk of getting heart problems, such as stroke and heart attacks. Taking time to relax and practice stress-reducing exercises can be very helpful.

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