What Can I Do To Prevent Or Manage High Blood Pressure
Many people with high blood pressure can lower their blood pressure into a healthy range or keep their numbers in a healthy range by making lifestyle changes. Talk with your health care team about
- Getting at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week
- Not smoking
- Managing stress
In addition to making positive lifestyle changes, some people with high blood pressure need to take medicine to manage their blood pressure. Learn more about medicines for high blood pressure.
Talk with your health care team right away if you think you have high blood pressure or if youve been told you have high blood pressure but do not have it under control.
Hypertension By The Numbers
Blood pressure is read as the top number/bottomnumber.
What do these numbers represent? The top number is the systolic pressure in your heart and blood vessel system when the heart is pumping. The bottom number is the diastolic pressure when the heart is filling.
When the heart is pumping, blood is injected into the blood vessels and the pressure will be higher. When the heart is filling between beats, the system is at rest and the pressure will be lower.
Myth #: If Your Blood Pressure Is Below 140/90 Theres Nothing To Worry About
Fact: About 30 percent of adults have prehypertension, defined as systolic pressure of 120 to 139 or diastolic pressure of 80 to 89. Having even one number in this range, even if the other is normal , still counts as prehypertension, which is also known as borderline high blood pressure.
In a 2014 meta-analysis of studies involving more than 700,000 people, published in Neurology, people with prehypertension were 66 percent more likely to suffer a stroke than those with normal BP. For people at the high end of the prehypertensive range , stroke risk was nearly doubled. This meta-analysis provides further evidence to physicians and patients that we need to take blood pressure seriously even at borderline levels, commented Ralph L. Sacco, MD, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Florida.
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What Are The Effects Of Hypertension On The Body
The effects of hypertension on the body start small and build up over time. When hypertension stays undiagnosed for a long time, the risks and complications are generally more severe.
- Circulatory System
The increased blood pressure causes direct damage to the arterial walls as blood travels. The damage can start as small tears. These small tears attract bad cholesterol where it then attaches. As bad cholesterol builds up, the arteries become more narrow, allowing less blood to get through.
When the artery gets blocked, proper blood circulation is compromised. This event leads to tissue damage as the proper flow of blood, oxygen, and nutrients is hindered from reaching important organs.
As a response, the heart pumps harder but is still less effective because of hypertension and blockage of the artery. As time progresses, the heart can develop an enlarged ventricle because of the extra work. This series of events in the body predisposes you to a heart attack.
- Nervous System
The damage to the brain resembles that which happens in the heart. When the blood flow to the brain remains compromised, it may lead to memory loss and other cognitive problems. Dementia is one of the cognitive problems that is characterized by loss of memory and mental function deterioration.
- Respiratory System
- Skeletal System
- Reproductive System
- Urinary System
Helpful Tips for Hypertension
1. Starting a heart-healthy diet
2. Getting regular exercise to increase physical activity
3. Eliminating stressors
Primary High Blood Pressure
While the specific cause of primary high blood pressure remains unknown, there is compelling evidence to suggest that a number of risk factors increase your chances of developing the condition.
These risk factors include:
- excessive alcohol consumption
A number of health conditions, such as diabetes and kidney disease, have also been linked to an increase risk of developing primary high blood pressure.
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Are High Blood Pressure And Hypertension The Same Thing
The terms high blood pressure and hypertension are used interchangeably, but they are not necessarily the same thing.
Hypertension is a diagnosis given when someone has multiple blood pressure readings above 130/80 mmHg. It indicates something has caused your blood pressure to rise above normal stress or exercise, for example.
You can have one episode or an occasional episode of high blood pressure. It doesnt mean you have hypertension, says Dr. Laffin.
What Are Uncontrollable Risk Factors
- Race – African Americans develop high blood pressure more often than whites, and it tends to occur earlier and be more severe.
- Heredity – A tendency to have high blood pressure runs in families. If your parents or other close blood relatives have it, youre more likely to develop it.
- Age – In general, the older you get, the greater your chance of developing high blood pressure. It occurs most often in people over age 35. Men seem to develop it most often between age 35 and 50. Women are more likely to develop it after menopause.
*BMI is used to define nutritional status and is derived from the following formula: BMI = 703 x Body Weight divided by The standards are the same for men and women. A BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight.
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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.
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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Dangerous High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure can cause numerous other health issues on the human body. It is always recommended to have your blood pressure screened at every visit to a clinician’s office. Even though you might not feel it but elevated blood pressure can continue to increase. Symptoms can also be felt at any stage of a higher blood pressure reading. When a blood pressure hits a certain level then a diagnosis is made of Hypertensive Urgency and required immediate medication to bring down the blood pressure.
What is Hypertensive Urgency?
Hypertensive urgency is an elevation in blood pressure of: systolic blood pressure greater than 180 or diastolic blood pressure greater than 110 without evidence of organ damage . Hypertensive urgency if left untreated can progress to a variety of acute, life-threatening complications.
What are some of the signs and/or symptoms?
Patients may complain of a mild headache, chest pain, dizziness, or increased fatigue to name a few. In some cases patients may not have any symptoms at all.
What are some of the risk factors that can cause Hypertensive Urgency?
History of high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, kidney disease or non-compliance with current blood pressure medication.
How would you treat Hypertensive Urgency?
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 It Diagnosed
Because it is such a common problem, blood pressure is checked at most healthcare visits. High blood pressure is usually discovered during one of these visits. If your blood pressure is high, you will be asked to return for follow-up checks. If repeated checks of your blood pressure show that it is higher than 140/90, you have hypertension.
Your healthcare provider will ask about your life situation, what you eat and drink, and if high blood pressure runs in your family. You may have urine and blood tests. Your provider may order a chest X-ray and an electrocardiogram . You may be asked to use a portable blood-pressure measuring device, which will take your pressure at different times during day and night. All of this testing is done to look for a possible cause of your high blood pressure.
Dangerous Blood Pressure Levels
This chart shows a simplified way to read blood pressure numbers.
As the chart indicates normal blood pressure is typically less than 120/80 mm Hg. If your levels are not around that number, then you might be at risk of abnormal blood pressure levels which is something you will want to pay attention to.
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What Does High Blood Pressure Feel Like
High blood pressure often doesnt have any symptoms, so you usually dont feel it.
Hypertension is usually diagnosed by a health care professional during a routine checkup. The average person should get a blood pressure reading at least once a year. As a cardiologist, I think its important for everyone to know their numbers. That means knowing what your blood pressure is. And it also means knowing your blood sugar level, cholesterol and body mass index. When you know your numbers, you can work with your doctor to make a plan to reduce any risks.
Blood pressure is even more important to pay attention to, though, if you have a close relative with hypertension or other risk factors. And know that if your blood pressure is extremely high, you may have unusually severe headaches, chest pain, difficulty breathing or get easily worn out by workouts. If you have any of these symptoms, see your doctor right away.
What Is Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your arteries. Each time your heart beats, it pumps blood into the arteries. Your blood pressure is highest when your heart beats, pumping the blood. This is called systolic pressure. When your heart is at rest, between beats, your blood pressure falls. This is called diastolic pressure.
Your blood pressure reading uses these two numbers. Usually the systolic number comes before or above the diastolic number. For example, 120/80 means a systolic of 120 and a diastolic of 80.
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Diabetes And High Blood Pressure The Link
Many diabetics end up suffering from high blood pressure. This happens because diabetes can damage the arteries, which may lead to arteriosclerosis and high blood pressure. By the same token, high blood pressure increases the risk of diabetes complications becoming a reality. Among common complications, youll find kidney disease as well as eye disease.
What Are The Symptoms
One of the sneaky things about high blood pressure is that you can have it for a long time without symptoms. That’s why it is important for you have your blood pressure checked at least once a year.
If you do have symptoms, they may be:
Although it happens rarely, the first symptom may be a stroke.
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How Is High Blood Pressure Treated
Treatment for hypertension depends on how high your blood pressure is, as well as your lifestyle and risk factors.
For elevated blood pressure, the goal is to keep your blood pressure from developing into clinical hypertension. No medications are necessary at this stage. Your doctor may recommend:
- losing weight if you have overweight or obesity
For stage 1 hypertension, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes as mentioned above, as well as:
- reducing your sodium intake
- finding healthy ways to manage your stress
- medication, if your blood pressure doesnt improve after 1 month of lifestyle changes
For stage 2 hypertension, the typical treatment, in addition to a healthier lifestyle, is medication. Your doctor may prescribe one or more of the following medications to help lower your blood pressure:
- ACE inhibitors to block substances that tighten blood vessels
- alpha blockers to help relax the arteries
- beta-blockers to decrease your heart rate and block substances that tighten blood vessels
- calcium channel blockers to relax blood vessels and decrease the work of your heart
- diuretics to decrease the amount of fluid in your body, including your blood vessels
A hypertensive crisis requires immediate treatment. Medications may be given orally or intravenously .
The most for a hypertensive crisis include:
- vasodilators, such as hydralazine, nitroglycerin, and nitroprusside
- beta-blockers, such as labetalol and esmolol
Lowering Systolic Blood Pressure More May Cut Health Risks
One major study found that lowering systolic blood pressure to well below the commonly recommended level also greatly lowered the number of cardiovascular events and deaths among people at least 50 years old with high blood pressure.
When study participants achieved a systolic blood pressure target of 120 mmHg compared to the higher target of 140 mmHg recommended for most people, and 150 for people over 60 issues such as heart attack, stroke and heart failure were reduced by almost one-third, and the risk of death by almost one-fourth.
“That’s important information, because more lives may be saved and more deaths may be prevented if we maintain lower blood pressure in certain patients,” says Lynne Braun, NP, PhD, a nurse practitioner at the Rush Heart Center for Women.
Braun cautions, however, that your personal blood pressure target depends on a variety of things, including your current blood pressure, lifestyle, risk factors, other medications you are taking and your age. “Every person has to be evaluated as an individual,” she says. “Realistically, we can’t get everybody down to 120, and trying to do so may create unintended problems.”
It can be dangerous, for instance, to keep an older person on medications that have unsafe side effects, such as diuretics , which can cause dehydration and dizziness in older adults.
And there can be other issues involved with taking multiple medications, such as cost and compliance.
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Avoid These Exercises If You Want To Lower Your Blood Pressure
As our friends at ETNT Health have reported, deaths attributed to high blood pressure, otherwise known as hypertensionwhen the pressure in your blood vessels is too highwere up a staggering 11% in 2020. Blood pressure-related deaths outnumber deaths attributed to the flu, pneumonia, heart disease, and stroke. Having high blood pressure will put your body at risk of several dangerous side effects that include aneurysm, heart attack, kidney issues, dementia, metabolic syndrome, andyesearly death.
Several lifestyle changes can help you lower your blood pressure, such as getting a full nights rest, watching your sodium intake, and cutting down booze. But one of the best ways to get your blood pressure back down to healthy levels is to exercise.
According to a new study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, if youre looking to maximize your heart health and keep your blood pressure low well into old age, you should be doing at least 5 hours of moderate-intensity exercise every single week. If that sounds like a lot, it is. After all, the latest guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services advise adults to aspire to perform at least 150 minutes to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week to enjoy the health benefits of working out.
Your Best Protection Is Knowledge Management And Prevention
- Know your numbers The best way to know if you have high blood pressure is to have your blood pressure checked.
- Understand the symptoms and risks Learn what factors could make you more likely to develop high blood pressure and put you at risk for serious medical problems.
- Make changes that matter Take steps to reduce your risk and manage your blood pressure. Make heart-healthy lifestyle changes, take any medication as prescribed and work in partnership with your doctor.
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Understanding How Blood Pressure Works
Blood pressure is the force that blood exerts on the artery walls. It is measured in millimeters of mercury by a gauge attached to a blood pressure cuff.
An optimal blood pressure reading is below 120/80 mmHg. That means that each time the heart contracts, blood is ejected with a force of 120 mmHg. When the heart relaxes in order to refill, this force drops to 80 mmHg.
If your blood pressure is chronically higher than 120/80 mmHg, it means the resistance is greater, and your heart has to work harder to push blood through your body. At this point, your doctor may recommend you try certain lifestyle changes to bring it down. These can include losing weight, exercising and cutting down on salt consumption.
If your blood pressure reaches 130/80 mmHg, you are said to have hypertension. Your risk of a cardiovascular event begins to increase exponentially. It may be necessary for you to take one or more medications to bring your pressure down.
Even if you have no symptoms, you should take these medications faithfully.