Treating High Blood Pressure
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:
- having a high level of cholesterol in your blood
- having a family history of cardiovascular disease .
Variations In Blood Pressure
Your blood pressure changes to meet your bodys needs. If a reading is high, your doctor may measure your blood pressure again on several separate occasions to confirm the level.
Your doctor may also recommend that you measure your blood pressure at home or have a 24-hour recording with a monitoring device.
When Is Low Blood Pressure Too Low Hypotension And More
Some people naturally have low blood pressure, known as hypotension. However, when high blood pressure suddenly becomes low blood pressure, it could be cause for concern.
Low blood pressure, or hypotension, may be a sign of good health and of a decreased risk of heart disease. But not always. At times, continually low blood pressure or a sudden drop in blood pressure can lead to worrisome symptoms and even serious health problems.
Fighting Back Against The Silent Killer
High blood pressure is a symptomless silent killer that quietly damages blood vessels and leads to serious health problems.
While there is no cure, using medications as prescribed and making lifestyle changes can enhance your quality of life and reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and more.
What Does The Systolic Blood Pressure Number Mean
Hereâs how to understand your systolic blood pressure number:
- Normal: Below 120
- Stage 1 high blood pressure : 130-139
- Stage 2 hypertension: 140 or more
- Hypertensive crisis: 180 or more. Call 911.
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Preventing High Blood Pressure
To keep your blood pressure in the normal range, your daily habits are key. These things help:
Donât smoke. Among the many health problems that smoking causes, it raises your blood pressure.
Make physical activity a habit. Most experts recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity five or more times a week. Or you could do a harder activity for a shorter period of time per session.
Eat right. Read food labels to see how much sodium is in a serving. Check with your doctor to find out what your daily limit should be. Include a lot of vegetables and fruits, along with whatever else you choose to put on your plate.
Stick to a healthy weight. Extra pounds raise your blood pressure. If youâre not sure what a healthy weight would be for you, ask your doctor.
If you drink alcohol, limit it to no more than one drink a day if youâre a woman and up to two drinks a day if youâre a man.
How To Take Blood Pressure
You can take your blood pressure at home using a wrist blood pressure monitor or an upper arm cuff blood pressure monitor. Experts typically recommend upper arm cuffs because they are the most accurate. Upper arm cuffs can come with either a manual or digital monitor. Both work well, but if youre measuring your blood pressure on your own regularly, a digital one will likely be easiest to use correctly.
To take your blood pressure accurately with a digital upper arm cuff, start by sitting quietly in an upright position for a few minutes, allowing your body a moment to relax. Be mindful to uncross your legs and ankles, as well as use comfortable support for your back.
With the monitor sitting on a table in front of you, place your arm next to itat approximately heart leveland place the cuff around your bare upper arm about one inch above your elbow. Secure the cuff so that you can only slide a fingertip under the top edge.
Next, simply turn on the monitor, press the start button, and take normal breaths as the cuff inflates and deflates, measuring your blood pressure and producing your reading on the screen.
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Average Blood Pressure By Age
As you get older, your blood vessels tend to become stiffer and plaque can build up in them, which can raise your blood pressure. If your blood pressure becomes too high, you’re at a greater risk for heart disease, strokes, and more.
In 2015, the average blood pressure worldwide was 127/79 mm Hg in men, and 122/77 mm Hg in women, according to a study analysis published in Lancet.
When researchers for the National Center for Health Statistics looked at average blood pressure in U.S. adults between 2001 and 2008, the average reading was 122/71 mm Hg. The breakout was 124/72 mm Hg for men, and 121/70 mm Hg in women. It rose by age and was significantly higher in Black people.
The researchers found the following breakdown by age, sex, and race or ethnicity:
|Blood Pressure by Age|
As the population ages and life expectancy increases, high blood pressure is becoming more common.
How Can You Prevent Low Blood Pressure
You may be able to prevent hypotension by making changes to your lifestyle and diet, such as:
- Eating fewer carbohydrates and choosing small, healthy meals.
- Staying hydrated and avoiding alcoholic drinks.
- Rising slowly when youve been sitting or lying down.
- Taking a few deep breaths before you change position.
- Wearing compression stockings.
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What Can You Do To Help Relieve Symptoms Of Low Blood Pressure
Depending on the type of low blood pressure you have, you may be able to relieve some of your symptoms by:
- Eating a healthy diet with fewer carbohydrates and smaller meals.
- Drinking more water and avoiding alcohol.
- Getting up slowly after youve been sitting or lying down.
- Focusing on breathing a few times before you change position.
- Wearing compression stockings.
What Does A Blood Pressure Reading Look Like
When you have your , 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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Does High Blood Pressure Have Any Symptoms
High blood pressure typically doesnt have any warning signs. Thats why its often called the silent killer. Because there may not be any symptoms, many people are unaware that they have high blood pressure.
However, early detection of hypertension is key as it can increase your risk for heart disease, stroke, kidney damage, and more.
If your blood pressure is dangerously high, you may have the following symptoms:
But, its important to know about your high blood pressure and the health risks it poses before it gets to this stage.
The only way to know for sure if you have hypertension is to get your blood pressure measured. You can then work with your doctor to find the treatment options that work best for keeping your blood pressure in a healthy range.
What Is High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is blood pressure that is higher than normal. Your blood pressure changes throughout the day based on your activities. Having blood pressure measures consistently above normal may result in a diagnosis of high blood pressure .
Your health care team can diagnose high blood pressure and make treatment decisions by reviewing your systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels and comparing them to levels found in certain guidelines.
The guidelines used to diagnose high blood pressure may differ from health care professional to health care professional:
- Some health care professionals diagnose patients with high blood pressure if their blood pressure is consistently 140/90 mm Hg or higher.2 This limit is based on a guideline released in 2003, as seen in the table below.
- Other health care professionals diagnose patients with high blood pressure if their blood pressure is consistently 130/80 mm Hg or higher.1 This limit is based on a guideline released in 2017, as seen in the table below.
|systolic: 130 mm Hg or higherdiastolic: 80 mm Hg or higher|
If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, talk with your health care team about your blood pressure levels and how these levels affect your treatment plan.
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If You Notice A Sudden Decline In Blood Pressure
A single lower-than-normal reading is not cause for alarm, unless you are experiencing any other symptoms or problems. If you experience any dizziness, lightheadedness, nausea or other symptoms, its a good idea to consult with your healthcare provider. To help with your diagnosis, keep a record of your symptoms and activities at the time they occurred.
Is low blood pressure related to low heart rate? Find out.
Written by American Heart Association editorial staff and reviewed by science and medicine advisers. See our editorial policies and staff.
Last Reviewed: Oct 31, 2016
New Findings Focus On Diastolic Blood Pressurethe Second Number In Your Blood Pressure Reading
Of the two numbers that make up your blood pressure reading, the first one typically gets more attention. That’s because as people age, their arteries lose their elasticity, and the inner walls are more likely to accumulate cholesterol-laden plaque. These factors tend to raise systolic blood pressure, a measure of the pressure inside the arteries when the heart contracts to pump blood throughout the body.
Current guidelines suggest that most people should aim for a systolic blood pressure reading of 140 millimeters of mercury or lower. But last year, a widely publicized clinical trial suggested that a target of 120 mm Hg could further reduce the dangers associated with high blood pressure .
Yet reaching that lower target required an average of three blood pressure medications, which resulted in more side effects. Now, two recent observational studies highlight some concerns about blood pressure that’s too low, particularly with regard to diastolic blood pressure. Diastolic blood pressure represents the pressure between beats when the heart relaxes.
Why Is Your Blood Pressure Important
According to the American Heart Association, almost half of adults in the United States have high blood pressure. If untreated, high blood pressure damages your circulatory system, and puts you at risk for heart disease and stroke.
High blood pressure can affect anyone. However, certain people are at higher risk than others. Some health conditions and lifestyle choices contribute to this risk.
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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What Causes Low Blood Pressure
There are many possible reasons for low blood pressure, according to both Dr. Wong and Dr. Desai, including:
- Heart problems like heart failure or low heart rates
- Endocrine problems, such as parathyroid disease, adrenal insufficiency or hypoglycemia
- Side effects of medications for high blood pressure, prostatic hypertrophy, Parkinsons disease, depression and erectile dysfunction
- Massive weight loss
- Rapid heart rate
When To Call Your Doctor
The risks of both high and low blood pressure make monitoring your blood pressure at home essential to your overall health and well-being. Both Dr. Wong and Dr. Desai recommend calling your healthcare provider if your self-monitored blood pressure readings are greater than 180/120 mmHgeven if you have no other symptoms.
You should call 911 if these blood pressure readings are associated with symptoms of organ damage, such as headache, vision changes, weakness, numbness, chest pain or shortness of breath, says Dr. Wong.
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Common Causes Of High Blood Pressure Spikes
Some people with high blood pressure will experience sharp rises in their blood pressure. These spikes, which typically last only a short period of time, are also known as sudden high blood pressure. These are some possible causes:
- Certain medications or combinations of medications
- Chronic kidney disease
You Can Fight High Blood Pressure
While heart disease is still the No. 1 killer in the United States and around the world, death rates have decreased significantly. Earlier and better treatment of high blood pressure has played a key role in that decrease.
Written by American Heart Association editorial staff and reviewed by science and medicine advisers. See our editorial policies and staff.
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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
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 .
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Who Is At Risk For High Blood Pressure
Your family history, lifestyle and medications can increase the chances youll develop high blood pressure. Risk factors for high blood pressure include:
- Drinking too much
- Some medications, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, also known as NSAIDS, some decongestants, weight loss medicines and stimulants)
- Some underlying health conditions, such as obstructive sleep apnea, kidney conditions, adrenal gland tumors and thyroid diseases
- Tobacco and illicit drug use
Unfortunately, family history is a large contributing factor. Even if you eat well, are physically active and avoid risk factors, you may still experience high blood pressure.
Healthy And Unhealthy Blood Pressure Ranges
Learn whats considered normal, as recommended by the American Heart Association.
|SYSTOLIC mm Hg||and/or||DIASTOLIC mm Hg|
|HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE STAGE 1||130 139|
|HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE STAGE 2||140 OR HIGHER|
|HYPERTENSIVE CRISIS||HIGHER THAN 180||and/or||HIGHER THAN 120|
Note: A diagnosis of high blood pressure must be confirmed with a medical professional. A doctor should also evaluate any unusually low blood pressure readings.
The five blood pressure ranges as recognized by the American Heart Association are:
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What Do The Readings Mean
As a general guide:
140/90mmHg or over you may have high blood pressureMost doctors use 140/90mmHg as the cut off for point for diagnosing . This is the point where your risk of serious health problems goes up. They might prescribe and advise you to make changes to your to bring your blood pressure down. 120/80mmHg up to 140/90mmHg pre-high blood pressureAlso called high-normal blood pressure. This is not high blood pressure, but it is a little higher than it should be and means you could go on to develop high blood pressure. See how you can make to lower it. 90/60mmHg up to 120/80mmHg ideal blood pressureAlso called normal blood pressure. Your blood pressure reading is healthy. At this level you have a much lower risk of heart disease and stroke. Following a will help you to keep it in the healthy range. 90/60mmHg or lower you may have low blood pressure usually isnt a problem, but it can sometimes make you feel faint or dizzy or could be a sign of another health problem.
The video below explains how your blood pressure numbers are linked to the risk of stroke and other disease.