Causes Of High Blood Pressure
Genetics and age both contribute to your likelihood of having high blood pressure. If anyone in your family has a history of high blood pressure, you might face a higher risk of having high blood pressure. Middle-aged and older adults face a higher risk too.
Other risk factors for high blood pressure include:
What Constitutes High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, also called hypertension, happens when the heart pumps blood against the artery walls at higher pressures than normal. It doesnt cause any symptoms, so the only way to know whether its high is to check it. But it isnt diagnosed from just one reading. You need at least two or more readings on two or more separate days before you can know whether you have high blood pressure. This is because your blood pressure changes from day to day and throughout each day, depending on what youre doing. It can increase temporarily from:
Stress or anxiety
Risks Of High Blood Pressure
If your blood pressure is too high, it puts extra strain on your blood vessels, heart and other organs, such as the brain, kidneys and eyes.
Persistent high blood pressure can increase your risk of a number of serious and potentially life-threatening health conditions, such as:
- have a relative with high blood pressure
- are of black African or black Caribbean descent
- live in a deprived area
Making healthy lifestyle changes can sometimes help reduce your chances of getting high blood pressure and help lower your blood pressure if it’s already high.
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Secondary Hypertension Treatment Options
If your doctor discovers an underlying issue causing your hypertension, treatment will focus on that other condition. For example, if a medicine youve started taking is causing increased blood pressure, your doctor will try other medicines that dont have this side effect.
Sometimes, hypertension is persistent despite treatment for the underlying cause. In this case, your doctor may work with you to develop lifestyle changes and prescribe medications to help reduce your blood pressure.
Treatment plans for hypertension often evolve. What worked at first may become less useful over time. Your doctor will continue to work with you to refine your treatment.
Many people go through a trial-and-error phase with blood pressure medications. You may need to try different medicines until you find one or a combination of medications that work for you.
Some of the medications used to treat hypertension include:
Healthy lifestyle changes can help you control the factors that cause hypertension. Here are some of the most common home remedies.
Why Wrong: Reading Blood Pressure Basics
Blood pressure is usually read when you are in the sitting position. There should be back support if seated.
Blood pressure readings should be taken when the person is relaxed and not right after any stressful events or stressful news.
It should be taken in the upper arm and at the level of the heart.
They should not be talking when the blood pressure is being taken.
Smoking, exercise or drinking caffeinated beverages within 30 minutes before their blood pressure reading can give a wrong reading.
The standard of care is to take the first blood pressure reading. If it is above normal, two more measurements are to be taken. The standard requires the measurements be separated by 2 minutes. Most health care workers do not wait the prerequisite 2 minutes.
If measurements are still elevated, your health care provider should take blood pressure readings from both arms.
An additional measurement may be taken once the patient has been laying, sitting and standing for 2 minutes.
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This Is High Blood Pressure
When your heart beats, it pumps blood around your body to give it the energy and oxygen it needs. As the blood moves, it pushes against the sides of the blood vessels. The strength of this pushing is your blood pressure. If your blood pressure is too high, it puts extra strain on your heart and blood vessels. This is called high blood pressure, or hypertension. Over time it can lead to a number of health problems including heart attacks, stroke, kidney disease and some forms of dementia. The good news is there are lots of things you can do to lower it.
High blood pressure is very common, about a third of adults in the UK have it, but many arent aware of it. It doesnt usually have any symptoms so the only way to know you have it is to have a blood pressure check.
Some High Blood Pressure Risks You Can’t Change
Anyone can get high blood pressure. But, some people have a greater chance of having it because of things they can’t change. These are:
- Age. The chance of having high blood pressure increases as you get older.
- Gender. Before age 55, men have a greater chance of having high blood pressure. Women are more likely to have high blood pressure after menopause.
- Family history. High blood pressure tends to run in some families.
- Race. African Americans are at increased risk for high blood pressure.
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High Blood Pressure Chart
The chart below shows measures for normal and high blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association .
Doctors measure blood pressure in millimeters of mercury .
Systolic pressure measures the pressure in the arteries as the heart contracts and is the top number on a blood pressure reading. Diastolic, which is the lower number, represents the blood pressure when the heart is resting between beats.
- congenital conditions, such as Cushings syndrome, acromegaly, or pheochromocytoma
Sometimes, there is no apparent cause. In this case, a doctor will diagnose primary hypertension.
Consuming a high fat diet, carrying excess weight, drinking a lot of alcohol, smoking tobacco, and the use of some medications also increase the risk.
Treatment will depend on several factors, including:
- how high the blood pressure is
- the risk of cardiovascular disease or a stroke
The doctor will recommend different treatments as blood pressure increases. For slightly high blood pressure, they may suggest making lifestyle changes and monitoring the blood pressure.
If blood pressure is high, they will recommend medication. The options may change over time, according to how severe the hypertension is and whether complications arise, such as kidney disease. Some people may need a combination of several different medications.
Preventing High Blood Pressure
Exercising for 30 minutes a day can reduce blood pressure by as much as 9 mmHg. Eating less salt achieves a similar effect. Alcohol should be consumed only in moderation, and smoking should be avoided entirely. A healthy diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat milk products, and little meat will keep blood pressure low.
Each excess kilogram of body weight a person loses reduces blood pressure by up to 2 mmHg. Because stress also increases blood pressure, care should be taken to ensure a good work-life balance and adequate sleep.
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Signs Of High Blood Pressure
Many adults have high blood pressure, but they arent aware of it. Thats why medical experts call hypertension a silent condition. The only way to know for sure if you have high blood pressure is to measure it regularly. You can do this at home or during a visit to your doctors office.
Although not directly caused by hypertension, there are a few symptoms that can indirectly result from high blood pressure numbers. These include:
Blood spots in the eyes
Having red spots in your eyes is most commonly seen in individuals with high blood pressure or diabetes. Diabetes and high blood pressure do not cause blood spots, however. An ophthalmologist can best determine if untreated hypertension is causing optic nerve damage, leading to blood spots in the eyes.
Lots of internal and external factors can cause facial flushing, like eating spicy foods, drinking hot drinks, wind, stress, hormone fluctuation, and skincare products. Your face can flush when you have higher than normal blood pressure, but hypertension isnt causing facial flushing.
Early warning signs of a stroke include sudden onset of dizziness, loss of balance, and trouble walking. High blood pressure is the top risk factor for stroke, so its possible for high blood pressure and dizziness to be related. Dizziness is also a common side effect of some blood pressure medications.
What Is The Difference
The major difference between the old and new guidelines is the elimination of the category of pre-hypertension. However, findings from research studies show that complications can exist when blood pressure is as low as 130-139 over 80-89.
The new guidelines change the categories. Those same readings that would have been pre-hypertension are now categorized as stage I hypertension. Doing so means earlier treatment, which can help prevent future increases in blood pressure and more serious complications associated with hypertension.
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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.
What Is High Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is defined as the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps blood. High blood pressure also known as hypertension is a disease in which blood flows through blood vessels at a higher than normal pressure.
Blood pressure is measured with two numbers. The first, or top number, is the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart beats, called the systolic pressure. Systolic pressure is the higher of the two numbers. The second, or bottom number, measures the force of blood in your arteries while your heart is relaxed between beats. The bottom number is the lower of the two and is called the diastolic pressure.
Normal pressure is 120/80 or lower. Your blood pressure is considered high if it reads 130/80. Stage 2 high blood pressure is 140/90 or higher. If you get a blood pressure reading of 180/110 or higher more than once, seek medical treatment right away. A reading this high is considered hypertensive crisis.
Readings between 120/80 and 129/89 are considered pre-hypertension. People with pre-hypertension do not have blood pressure as low as it should be but are not yet considered to have high blood pressure.
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British Columbia Specific Information
High blood pressure, also called hypertension, can damage your blood vessels, heart and kidneys. This damage can cause a heart attack, stroke or other health problems. Your blood pressure reading is based on two measurements called systolic and diastolic. The systolic and diastolic are written as a ratio, for example . A reading of more than 140/90 mmHg taken at your healthcare providers office may indicate high blood pressure. This figure is different for people with diabetes whose blood pressure should be below 130/80 mmHg. People suffering from other illnesses will have different target normal values. For more information on hypertension, visit the Heart & Stroke Foundation and Hypertension Canada.
Healthy lifestyle choices can help lower your blood pressure and improve your health. For information on healthy eating for lowering your blood pressure, see:
When A Cuff Too Small Is Secured Too Tight How Does It Affect Blood Pressure
A BP cuff too small squeezing tightly increases BP. The cuff bladder doesnt wrap around the upper arm as much as it should, making it more difficult to block the flow of blood in the artery. When the air pressure is released, the systolic pressure signal starts earlier which results in a higher BP measurement.
The air bladder inside the cuff should be at least 75% of the arm circumference 4. If the bladder isnt long enough, it wont cut off the blood flow properly when the cuff is inflating with air. In addition, if the cuff is too short, it may cause you to pull the cuff tighter than it should to secure it properly.
In a study evaluating cuff positioning, comparisons were conducted using a cuff too small for the upper arm. When the smaller cuff was used, systolic pressure increased 4.9 mmHg and diastolic pressure 4.0 mmHg 5.
I have an article, Blood Pressure Cuff Too Small, which dives into detail about the cuff being too small. It also discusses how obese arms is a major cause and how to correct it.
Foods For High Blood Pressure
If you are eating a whole foods plant-based diet and are still struggling with high blood pressure, there are certain foods you can incorporate into your diet.
A few tablespoons of ground flaxseed a day has been shown to greatly reduce blood pressure. In this study, flaxseed was found to be 2 to 3 times more powerful than an exercise program.
Hibiscus tea also seems to be effective at reducing blood pressure. Although, more research is needed.
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.
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Choosing A Blood Pressure Monitor
If you’re planning to take your blood pressure at home, it’s important to have a reliable blood pressure monitor. The AHA recommends an automatic, cuff-style, bicep monitor, but there are other options.
When selecting a blood pressure monitor, consider the following:
- Fit: To ensure a proper fit, measure around your upper arm and choose a monitor that comes with the correct size cuff.
- Number of people: If more than one person will be using the monitor, make sure to choose one that fits everyone.
- Features: Some blood pressure monitors offer extra tech features, like Bluetooth and app connectivity. If you don’t think you’ll benefit from these extras, go ahead and choose one that is efficient, easy to use, and more affordable.
- Budget: High-quality blood pressure monitors vary dramatically in price, from around $25 to well over $100. Keep in mind that a good monitor is a great investment and that you will be using it daily for several years.
- Other considerations: The AHA notes that when selecting a blood pressure monitor for a senior, pregnant person, or child, you should make sure it is validated for these conditions.
If you need help selecting an at-home device, check out these blood pressure monitors, which were vetted by the Verywell team based on the above criteria.
High Blood Pressure In Adults
Healthy blood pressure in adults is a reading below 120 systolic and 80 diastolic. Blood pressure between 120 to 129 systolic and under 80 diastolic is considered elevated. Elevated blood pressure means you have a greater risk of developing high blood pressure later on. Your doctor may suggest eating less salt, eating a heart healthy diet, or living a more active lifestyle.
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Why Is It Important To Know If You Have High Blood Pressure
Early detection of high blood pressure is very important. Often referred to as the silent killer because it may show no symptoms, high blood pressure puts you at an increased risk for heart disease, heart failure, and stroke, among other things. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2013, more than 360,000 deaths in the United States included high blood pressure as a primary or contributing cause.
When Does High Blood Pressure Turn Into Prehypertension
Elevated blood pressure means that your blood pressure is slightly above what is considered normal. Some doctors refer to slightly elevated blood pressure as prehypertension. Elevated blood pressure will likely turn into high blood pressure unless you make lifestyle changes, such as getting more exercise and eating healthier foods.
Unlike traditional high blood pressure, where there are no visual symptoms until major damage has occurred, sudden high blood pressure alerts you immediately. In extreme cases of sudden high blood pressure, there may be bleeding from damaged blood vessels, blindness from ruptured retina nerves or vessels, and possibly seizures.
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Is It Normal To Have Low Blood Pressure All The Time
Low blood pressure is a reading below 90/60 mmHg. Most forms of hypotension happen because your body cant bring blood pressure back to normal or cant do it fast enough, says the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. For some people, low blood pressure is normal. They have it all the time, with no symptoms or negative side effects.