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.
What Are The Treatments For High Blood Pressure
You will work with your provider to come up with a treatment plan. It may include only the lifestyle changes. These changes, such as heart-healthy eating and exercise, can be very effective. But sometimes the changes do not control or lower your high blood pressure. Then you may need to take medicine. There are different types of blood pressure medicines. Some people need to take more than one type.
If your high blood pressure is caused by another medical condition or medicine, treating that condition or stopping the medicine may lower your blood pressure.
NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
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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What Are The Risks Of Resistant Hypertension
Over time, uncontrolled hypertension damages the arteries, contributing to their stiffening. As the arteries become narrower and less flexible, the heart has to work harder to move blood through the body. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to stroke, heart attack, heart failure and other heart conditions cause damage to your kidneys, memory and vision and contribute to erectile dysfunction.
What You Need To Know
- Twenty percent of patients with hypertension are resistant.
- Resistant hypertension may have no symptoms at all for months or years, but then can cause heart attack, stroke, and vision and kidney damage.
- Some people have pseudoresistant hypertension, which is caused by other factors, such as conflicting medications or white coat hypertension .
- Pseudoresistant hypertension is important to diagnose and treat.
- Assessment and treatment of resistant hypertension includes addressing any identifiable conditions or causes and adjusting medications in a personalized way.
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What Causes High Blood Pressure
Food, medicine, lifestyle, age, and genetics can cause high blood pressure. Your doctor can help you find out what might be causing yours. Common factors that can lead to high blood pressure include:
- A diet high in salt, fat, and/or cholesterol.
- Chronic conditions such as kidney and hormone problems, diabetes, and high cholesterol.
- Family history, especially if your parents or other close relatives have high blood pressure.
- Lack of physical activity.
- Tobacco use or drinking too much alcohol.
Being Overweight Or Obese
Multiplestudies show that people who are overweight or obese tend to have higher blood pressure than those who are not, and some have even suggested that significant excess weight is behind almost 40% of all hypertension diagnoses. If you are overweight, the best thing to do to reduce your risk for hypertension is to lose weight by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly.
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Set Weight Loss Goals
If your doctor has recommended you lose weight, talk with them about an optimal weight loss goal for you. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a weight loss goal of one to two pounds a week. This can be achieved through a more nutritious diet and increased physical exercise.
Employing the help of a trainer or fitness app, and possibly even a dietician, are all methods to help you learn how to make the best choices for your body and your lifestyle.
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
- 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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Hypertension: What You Need To Know As You Age
You cant see high blood pressure, also called hypertension. And most ofthe time, you cant feel it. But if youre among the 78 million Americanswith hypertension or are one of the 70 million with prehypertension, its important to understandits effects on your healthand to take action today to bring your numbersdown to healthier levels.
Blood pressure is the force of blood against the inner walls of yourarteries. It has normal fluctuations throughout the dayfalling when yourerelaxed or asleep, rising naturally in the morning, and increasingtemporarily when youre under stress, excited or exercising. But when yourresting blood pressure level rises too high, it can scar, stiffen and/orweaken blood vessels. This effect can double your risk for aheart attack quadruple your odds for astroke raise your risk forheart failure, vision loss, kidney problems,dementiaand circulation problems such asperipheral artery disease weaken your bones and contribute toerectile dysfunctionin men.
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 Treated
If high blood pressure is due to a condition like kidney disease or lung disease, treating it might be enough to get the blood pressure back to normal.
Doctors also might recommend lifestyle changes. If you have hypertension, your doctor might want you to:
Eat a healthy diet:
- Eat more fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy.
- Limit salt.
- Avoid alcohol.
Get regular exercise:
- Try to exercise for 3060 minutes at least 3 times a week. But teens with severe hypertension should not do any weightlifting or power-lifting, bodybuilding, or strength training until their blood pressure is under control and a doctor says it’s OK.
- People with high blood pressure should not smoke, and their home and car should be smoke-free.
If diet and exercise changes do not improve the blood pressure, doctors may prescribe medicine.
Too Much Sodium In Your Diet
Sodium is a chemical found in salt, plays a role in increasing blood pressure by promoting the retention of fluid by the body. This increases the pressure on the heart to work more. Some studies recommend an upper daily limit for sodium consumption of 1500 mg. Checking the sodium amount on food labels and menus can help you keep a track of how much sodium you are consuming. Launch meats and canned soups have particularly high levels of dietary sodium. Processed foods are high in sodium and makeup about 75% of our sodium intake.
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How Can I Measure My Blood Pressure At Home
Talk with your health care team about regularly measuring your blood pressure at home, also called self-measured blood pressure monitoring.
SMBP means you regularly use a personal blood pressure measurement device away from a doctors office or hospitalusually at home. These blood pressure monitors are easy and safe to use. A health care team member can show you how to use one if you need help.
Evidence shows that people with high blood pressure are more likely to lower their blood pressure if they use SMBP combined with support from their health care team than if they dont use SMBP.3
Use these additional tips for SMBP:4
- Use a blood pressure log pdf icon to record your blood pressure measurements.
- Take your blood pressure at the same time every day.
- Take at least two readings, 1 or 2 minutes apart.
Frequently Asked Questions About Hypertension
Q: If left untreated, does hypertension get worse?
A: Its hard to say. Researchers are starting to see that kids and adolescents with pre-hypertension are more likely to develop stage 1 hypertension, but we dont know if or when stage 1 hypertension will progress to stage 2.
Q: Can hypertension be cured?
A: In some cases, secondary hypertension can be fixed. For example, if:
- its caused by a narrowing in a blood vessel that the doctors are able to widen
- its caused by a rare endocrine tumor that doctors are able to treat successfully
There are also cases in which hypertension might be transient for example, if its caused by a temporary inflammation of the filters in the kidney.
Even when hypertension cant be fixed, it can almost always be well-controlled, with diet and exercise and/or medication.
Q: If my child is being treated for hypertension, what should I watch out for?
A: Keep an eye out for:
- chest pains
- severe headaches that dont seem to respond to at-home treatment
- changes in vision
- swelling of hands and feet
- shortness of breath with limited exertion
- changes in her urine
Q: Will my child need to go on medication?
A: Only a fraction of kids with hypertension require medication. Frequently, its treated with diet and exercise modification first. And if the child is overweight, every kilogram of weight she loses, her blood pressure could bring her blood pressure down by about a point.
Q: Will my child have hypertension as an adult?
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What Is The Root Cause Of High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure can be caused by food, medicine, lifestyle, age, and heredity. Your doctor can assist you in determining the source of yours. High blood pressure can be caused by a number of circumstances, including:
- Kidney and hormone disorders, diabetes, and excessive cholesterol are all chronic illnesses.
- High blood pressure runs in your family, especially if your parents or other close relatives have it.
- Getting older .
- racial discrimination .
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, like 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:
- cholesterol screening and other blood tests
- test of your hearts electrical activity with an electrocardiogram
- ultrasound of your heart or kidneys
- home blood pressure monitor to monitor your blood pressure over a 24-hour period at home
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.
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Stiffening Of The Arteries
Some physicians consider the most authentic form of pseudo-resistant hypertension to be caused by stiffened brachial arteries that prevent the blood pressure cuff from obtaining a true reading. If your doctor suspects this form of pseudo-resistant hypertension, they might consider other ways to measure your blood pressure.
What Do The Diastolic And Systolic Numbers Mean
How is blood pressure measured?
Blood pressure is measured with a blood pressure cuff and recorded as two numbers, for example, 120/80 mm Hg . Blood pressure measurements are usually taken at the upper arm over the brachial artery.
- The top, the larger number is called the systolic pressure. This measures the pressure generated when the heart contracts . It reflects the pressure of the blood against arterial walls.
- At the bottom, the smaller number is called the diastolic pressure. This reflects the pressure in the arteries while the heart is filling and resting between heartbeats.
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What Complications Are Associated With Hypertension
While kids with hypertension are unlikely to have heart attacks and strokes, it still has significant risks. Hypertension causes changes in the structures of the blood vessels and heart. Since hypertension in children has historically been understudied, there isnt a lot of data about exactly what these changes mean. But we do know that in adults, hypertension increases the chance of complications in the heart, blood vessels, and kidneys. Theres also compelling evidence that some of these changes are seen in children with high blood pressure.
These changes affect:
Blood vesselshigh blood pressure can damage blood vessels throughout the body, which makes it harder for organs to work efficiently.
Kidneysif the blood vessels in the kidneys are damaged, they may stop removing waste and extra fluid from the body. This extra fluid can raise blood pressure even more.
Other organsif left untreated, hypertension makes it harder for blood to reach many different parts of the body, including the eyes and the brain, and can lead to blindness and strokes.
What Is Pulmonary Hypertension
Pulmonary hypertension happens when the pressure in the blood vessels leading from the heart to the lungs is too high.
With pulmonary hypertension, the blood vessels to the lungs develop an increased amount of muscle in the wall of the blood vessels. The heart pumps blood from the right ventricle to the lungs to get oxygen. Because the blood does not have to travel very far, the pressure in this side of the heart and in the artery taking blood from the right ventricle to the lungs is normally lowusually much lower than systolic or diastolic blood pressure.
When the pressure in this artery gets too high, the arteries in the lungs can narrow and then the blood does not flow as well as it should, resulting in less oxygen in the blood.1
During pulmonary hypertension, the arteries in the lungs can narrow and then the blood does not flow as well as it should, resulting in less oxygen in the blood.
During pulmonary hypertension, the arteries in the lungs can narrow and then the blood does not flow as well as it should, resulting in less oxygen in the blood.
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How To Understand High Blood Pressure Readings
Two numbers create a blood pressure reading. Systolic pressure indicates the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats and pumps out blood. Diastolic pressure is the reading of the pressure in your arteries between beats of your heart.
Five categories define blood pressure readings for adults:
- Healthy: A healthy blood pressure reading is less than 120/80 millimeters of mercury .
- Elevated: The systolic number is between 120 and 129 mm Hg, and the diastolic number is less than 80 mm Hg. Doctors usually dont treat elevated blood pressure with medication. Instead, your doctor may encourage lifestyle changes to help lower your numbers.
- Stage 1 hypertension: The systolic number is between 130 and 139 mm Hg, or the diastolic number is between 80 and 89 mm Hg.
- Stage 2 hypertension: The systolic number is 140 mm Hg or higher, or the diastolic number is 90 mm Hg or higher.
- Hypertensive crisis: The systolic number is over 180 mm Hg, or the diastolic number is over 120 mm Hg. Blood pressure in this range requires urgent medical attention. If any symptoms like chest pain, headache, shortness of breath, or visual changes occur when blood pressure is this high, medical care in the emergency room is needed.
A blood pressure reading is taken with a pressure cuff. For an accurate reading, its important you have a cuff that fits. An ill-fitting cuff may deliver inaccurate readings.
How Can I Control My Blood Pressure
You can often lower your blood pressure by changing your day-to-day habits and by taking medication if needed. Treatment, especially if you have other medical conditions such as diabetes, requires ongoing evaluation and discussions with your doctor.
Lifestyle changes you can make to help prevent and lower high blood pressure:
In addition to recommending lifestyle changes, your doctor will likely prescribe medication to lower your blood pressure to a safe level. Isolated systolic hypertension, the most common form of high blood pressure in older adults, is treated in the same way as regular high blood pressure but may require more than one type of blood pressure medication. You may try several kinds or combinations of medications before finding a plan that works best for you. Medication can control your blood pressure, but it can’t cure it. If your doctor starts you on medication for high blood pressure, you may need to take it long-term.
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