- Who Can Get
- Risks and Complications
What is high blood pressure?
Systolic: This is the higher number and measures blood pressure during a heartbeat.
Normal blood pressure for you may be different than another person’s average blood pressure. You may naturally have blood pressure that averages higher or lower. However, blood pressure that is above or below your normal range can result in negative health problems.
Your blood pressure is considered normal with a reading of 120/80. It is considered low once it falls to 90/60 or lower. High blood pressure is measured at varying levels:
Elevated: 120-129/80 or less
Hypertension stage 2: 140 or higher/90 or higher
Hypertension stage 3: Higher than 180/higher than 120
Causes of high blood pressure
Causes of high blood pressure
High blood pressure builds slowly over time. This is one reason you may not notice your symptoms. Unhealthy lifestyle choices like poor diet and a lack of exercise are factors that impact your blood pressure.
Who can have high blood pressure?
- Family history: Your close relatives with high blood pressure increase your risk since it is often a genetic condition.
- Age: The elderly are more at risk for high blood pressure as blood vessels gradually lose some of their elastic quality with time
- Sex: Up to the age of 64, men are more likely to get high blood pressure than women. The opposite is true for ages 65 and above.
- Race: African-Americans have an elevated risk of high blood pressure.
- Kidney disease: This condition is tied to an increase in blood pressure.
How do you know if you have high blood pressure?
High blood pressure doesn’t cause many symptoms. Checking it regularly is the only way to know if your blood pressure is high or low.
Diagnosing high blood pressure
Only a licensed healthcare professional can diagnose high blood pressure. Your doctor will check your blood pressure to see what your reading is.
If your doctor suspects that your high blood pressure is the symptom of another medical condition, you’ll need to complete more specific tests to learn more. If another condition is discovered, treating it should have a positive impact on your blood pressure.
Treatments for high blood pressure
If your blood pressure is elevated and you want to see an immediate change, lie down and take deep breaths. This is how you lower your blood pressure within minutes, helping to slow your heart rate and decrease your blood pressure.
When you feel stress, hormones are released that constrict your blood vessels. This produces a temporary spike in your blood pressure.
Risks and complications of high blood pressure
All medications have the potential for side effects, so talk to your doctor about what to expect. Since other medical conditions are the leading causes of high blood pressure, your doctor will talk to you about your options for treating any other medical conditions you have.
The greatest risk lies in not addressing your high blood pressure.
Leaving it untreated can cause damage to your blood vessels, heart, and organs. It also puts you at risk for stroke and heart attack. Talk to your doctor about any blood pressure-related concerns you may have.
Other ways to lower your blood pressure over time include:
- Regular exercise
- Lowering your salt intake
- Limiting alcohol
- Adding more potassium to your diet
- Reducing your stress
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
American Heart Association: “Know Your Risk Factors for High Blood Pressure.”
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “High Blood Pressure Symptoms and Causes.”
Harvard Medical School: “6 simple tips to reduce your blood pressure.”
Mayo Clinic: “10 ways to control high blood pressure without medication.”
National Health Service: “High blood pressure (hypertension).”