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What Happens If Your Blood Pressure Is High

Learning To Cope With Stress Can Help

How High Is Too High For Blood Pressure? Cardiologist Explains

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.

Have Your Blood Pressure Measured Regularly

Have your blood pressure measured regularly and know what your blood pressure is. Remember that both numbers are important. If either the systolic or diastolic number is high , then your doctor will need to further check your blood pressure. A blood pressure measurement of less than 120/80 mmHg is very good unless it causes dizziness.

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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Treatment Of High Blood Pressure

Treatment for HBP depends on its severity and associated risks of developing other diseases. Treatment options include:

Lifestyle changes

Medications

  • ACE inhibitors will help blood vessels relax and open up, leading to a lower blood pressure.
  • Angiotensin II receptor blockers will help blood vessels open up, leading to a lower blood pressure.
  • Beta blockers will help reduce your blood pressure.
  • Alpha blockers will help reduce the arteries resistance, relaxing the muscle tone of the vascular walls.
  • Alpha-2 receptor agonists will help reduce blood pressure by decreasing the activity of the sympathetic portion of the involuntary nervous system.
  • Calcium channel blockers will help relax and open up narrowed blood vessels, reduce heart rate and lower blood pressure.
  • Combined alpha and beta blockers are used as an IV drip for those patients experiencing a hypertensive crisis.
  • Central agonists will help decrease the blood vessels ability to tense up or contract.
  • Diuretics water pills will help reduce the amount of fluid retention in your body.
  • Peripheral adrenergic inhibitors will help reduce blood pressure by blocking neurotransmitters in the brain.
  • Vasodilators will help the muscle in the walls of the blood vessels to relax, allowing the vessel to dilate.

Treating High Blood Pressure

What Do Blood Pressure Readings Mean?

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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High Blood Pressure Threatens Your Health And Quality Of Life

In most cases, damage done from high blood pressure occurs over time. Left undetected or uncontrolled, high blood pressure can lead to:

  • Heart attack High blood pressure damages arteries that can become blocked and prevent blood flow to the heart muscle.
  • Stroke High blood pressure can cause blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the brain to become blocked or burst.
  • Heart failure The increased workload from high blood pressure can cause the heart to enlarge and fail to supply blood to the body.
  • Kidney disease or failure High blood pressure can damage the arteries around the kidneys and interfere with their ability to filter blood effectively.
  • Vision loss High blood pressure can strain or damage blood vessels in the eyes.
  • Sexual dysfunction High blood pressure can lead to erectile dysfunction in men and may contribute to lower libido in women.
  • Angina Over time, high blood pressure can lead to heart disease including microvascular disease . Angina, or chest pain, is a common symptom.
  • Peripheral artery disease Atherosclerosis caused by high blood pressure can lead to narrowed arteries in the legs, arms, stomach and head, causing pain or fatigue.

Download the consequences of HBP infographic: English | Spanish | Traditional Chinese

What Can I Expect If I Have This Condition

Since high blood pressure doesnt cause many symptoms at first, you probably wont feel any different with a high blood pressure diagnosis. But its important to follow your providers instructions to bring your blood pressure down so it doesnt cause serious illnesses later in life.

How long does high blood pressure last?

If you have primary high blood pressure, youll need to control it for the rest of your life.

If you have secondary high blood pressure, your blood pressure will most likely come down after you receive treatment for the medical problem that caused it. If a medication caused your high blood pressure, switching to a different medicine may lower your blood pressure.

What is the outlook for high blood pressure?

You can get seriously ill if you dont treat your high blood pressure. However, if you take the medicines your provider ordered, you can control your blood pressure. Exercising and eating healthy foods also helps lower your blood pressure.

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Keep Yourself At A Healthy Weight

Having overweight or obesity increases your risk for high blood pressure. To determine whether your weight is in a healthy range, doctors often calculate your body mass index . If you know your weight and height, you can calculate your BMI at CDCs Assessing Your Weight website. Doctors sometimes also use waist and hip measurements to assess body fat.

Talk with your health care team about ways to reach a healthy weight, including choosing healthy foods and getting regular physical activity.

High Blood Pressure And Hypertensive Crisis

What is High Blood Pressure? (HealthSketch)

If your blood pressure readings exceed 180/120 mm Hg and you have any symptoms such as headache, chest pain, nausea/vomiting or dizziness, call 911 immediately. If you dont have any symptoms, wait five minutes and then test your blood pressure again.

Also contact your health care professional immediately if your readings are still unusually high and you arent experiencing any other symptoms of target organ damage such as chest pain, shortness of breath, back pain, numbness/weakness, change in vision or difficulty speaking. You could be experiencing a hypertensive crisis.

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What Should I Do If I Have High Blood Pressure

If your healthcare provider has diagnosed you with high blood pressure, they will talk with you about your recommended blood pressure target or goal. They may suggest that you:

  • Check your blood pressure regularly with a home blood pressure monitor. These are automated electronic monitors and are available at most pharmacies or online.
  • Quit smoking and/or using tobacco products.
  • Work on controlling anger and managing stress.

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Can High Blood Pressure Affect Pregnancy

High blood pressure complicates about 10% of all pregnancies. There are several different types of high blood pressure during pregnancy and they range from mild to serious. The forms of high blood pressure during pregnancy include:

Chronic hypertension: High blood pressure which is present before pregnancy.

Gestational hypertension: High blood pressure in the latter part of pregnancy.

Preeclampsia: This is a dangerous condition that typically develops in the latter half of pregnancy and results in hypertension, protein in the urine and generalized swelling in the pregnant person. It can affect other organs in the body and cause seizures .

Chronic hypertension with superimposed preeclampsia: Pregnant people who have chronic hypertension are at increased risk for developing preeclampsia.

Your provider will check your blood pressure regularly during prenatal appointments, but if you have concerns about your blood pressure, be sure to talk with your provider.

What Happens If You Forget To Take Your High Blood Pressure Medication

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What Do The Blood Pressure Numbers Mean

When blood pressure is measured, the result is given as two numbers, such as 120/80. The first number is the amount of force used when the heart beats . The second number is the pressure in the arteries between heart beats . Pressures are measured in millimeters of mercury . High blood pressure is defined as pressures above 140/90 for a period of time. Prehypertension is defined as a systolic pressure from 120139 millimeters of mercury or a diastolic pressure from 8089 mm Hg. Because blood pressure changes often, your health care provider will check it on several different days before deciding whether your blood pressure is too high. Blood pressure is considered high when it is elevated above 140/90 for a period of time. For people with chronic kidney disease, the recommended level is below 130/80.

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Target Your High Blood Pressure

Once you have been diagnosed with hypertension, remember that high blood pressure can be lowered. For most people, blood pressure readings should be lower than 140/90 mmHg when measured in the doctors office. At home, your blood pressure should generally be below 135/85 mmHg. For those people with diabetes or kidney disease, lower blood pressure is even more important and should be below 130/80 mmHg when measured in the doctors office.

Most people who lead healthy lifestyles do not suffer from high blood pressure. For those with hypertension, following the steps outlined above will lower their blood pressure.

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What’s The Impact Of Having High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for developing cardiovascular diseases such as:

  • coronary heart disease – where the main arteries that supply your heart become clogged up with plaques
  • strokes – a serious condition where the blood supply to your brain is interrupted
  • heart attacks – a serious condition where the blood supply to part of your heart is blocked

Diabetes and kidney disease are also linked to high blood pressure complications.

What Causes Hypertension

Is Your Blood Pressure is Too High? (How High is Too High?)

The most common form of hypertension is called primary hypertension. It is a disease in itself largely caused by advancing age and genetics. By age 80, some 90% of adults have primary hypertension due to arteries narrowed by atherosclerosis. Despite its prevalence, primary hypertension is neither desirable nor inevitable.

We used to think high blood pressure was essential as we age, says Dr. Laffin. Now we know this is not true. High blood pressure in our later years needs to be addressed.

Hypertension also can be caused by another disease, called secondary hypertension, such as narrowing of the aorta or the arteries leading to the kidneys, or by excess hormone production.

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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.

What Are Ways To Manage Your Blood Pressure

The best treatment for high blood pressure is often diet, exercise and lifestyle changes. Here are things you can do:

  • Make changes to your diet There are plenty of ways to lower your blood pressure through diet. You can start by making small changes like avoiding high-sodium foods or swapping out your daily snack for a healthier option. The ultimate goal is to create a heart healthy diet you can sustain with your own willpower and the support of your family, doctor and friends.
  • Try to maintain a healthy bodyweight If youre overweight or obese, the extra strain on your heart can contribute to high blood pressure. But losing even 10 pounds can make a big difference.
  • Exercise regularly Aim for a total of 30 minutes of exercise most days.
  • Limit alcoholic drinks Alcohol increases blood pressure. Women should try to limit themselves to one drink a day. For men, the number should be no more than two.
  • Improve sleep If you get less than six hours of sleep each night, you may have an increased chance of getting high blood pressure. So, make snoozing a priority. If insomnia or sleep apnea are getting in the way, consider talking to a sleep medicine doctor.
  • Stop smoking Tobacco products are incredibly bad for your heart. If you smoke or vape, quitting is the best thing you can do for your heart and the rest of your body.
  • Reduce stress High stress levels can increase blood pressures. So, look for ways to relieve stress such as deep breathing and guided imagery.

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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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