Hypertension, the medical term for high blood pressure, is known as "the silent killer." More than 80 million Americans (33%) have high blood pressure, and as many as 16 million of them do not even know they have the condition. If left untreated, high blood pressure greatly increases your risk for heart attack and stroke. Hypertension is projected to increase about 8 percent between 2013 and 2030.
Yourheartpumps blood through a network of arteries, veins, and capillaries. The moving blood pushes against the arterial walls, and this force is measured as blood pressure.
High blood pressure results from the tightening of very small arteries called arterioles. Arterioles regulate the blood flow through your body. As these arterioles tighten (or constrict), your heart has to work harder to pump blood through the smaller space, and the pressure inside the vessels grows.
High blood pressure can affect your health in four main ways:
- Hardening of the arteries.Pressure inside your arteries can cause the muscles that line the walls of the arteries to thicken, thus narrowing the passage. Aheart attackorstrokecan occur if a blood clot blocks blood flow to your heart or brain.
- Enlarged heart.High blood pressure increases the amount of work for your heart. Like any heavily exercised muscle in your body, your heart grows bigger (enlarges) to handle the extra workload. The bigger your heart is, the more it demands oxygen-rich blood but the less able it is to maintain proper blood flow. As a result, you feel weak and tired and are not able to exercise or perform physical activities. Without treatment, yourheart failurewill only get worse.
- Kidney damage.Prolonged high blood pressure can damage your kidneys if their blood supply is affected.
- Eye damage.If you have diabetes, high blood pressure can cause the tiny capillaries in the retina of your eye to bleed. This condition, called retinopathy, can lead to blindness.
What causes high blood pressure?
About 90% to 95% of all high blood pressure cases are what is calledprimary, oressential hypertension. That means the real cause of the high blood pressure is not known, but a number of factors contribute. You are at increased risk if you –
- Have a family history of high blood pressure.
- Are African American. African Americans develop high blood pressure more often than whites, and it tends to happen earlier in life and be more severe.
- Are a man, but women are at an increased risk after age 55.
- Are older than 60. Blood vessels become more brittle with age and are not as flexible.
- Face high levels of stress. In some studies, stress, anger, hostility, and other personality traits have been shown to lead to high blood pressure.
- Are overweight or obese.
- Use tobacco products. Smoking damages your blood vessels.
- Use oral contraceptives. Women who smoke and use oral contraceptives greatly increase their risk.
- Eat a diet high in saturated fat.
- Eat a diet high in salt (sodium).
- Drink more than a moderate amount of alcohol. Experts say that moderate intake is an average of one to two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. One drink is defined as 1½ fluid ounces (fl oz) of 80-proof spirits, 1 fl oz of 100-proof spirits, 4 fl oz of wine, or 12 fl oz of beer.
- Are physically inactive.
- Have diabetes.
Researchers have also found a gene that appears to be linked to high blood pressure. If you have the gene, you are more likely to develop high blood pressure, so you should monitor your blood pressure and eliminate as many of the other risk factors as you can.
The remaining patients with high blood pressure have what is calledsecondary hypertensionwhich means the high blood pressure is the result of another condition or illness. Many cases of secondary hypertension are caused by kidney disorders. Other conditions that can cause secondary hypertension are
- Problems with the parathyroid gland.
- Acromegaly, which is a condition where the pituitary gland makes too much growth hormone.
- Tumors in the adrenal or pituitary glands.
- Reactions to medicines for other medical problems.
What are the symptoms of high blood pressure?
Most people who have high blood pressure do not have symptoms. In some cases, people with high blood pressure may have a pounding feeling in their head or chest, a feeling of lightheadedness or dizziness,or other signs. Without symptoms, people with high blood pressure may go years without knowing they have the condition.
How is high blood pressure diagnosed?
A visit to your doctor is the only way to find out if you have high blood pressure. You should have a general medical check-up that includes a review of your family’s medical history. Your doctor will take several blood pressure readings using a device called a sphygmomanometer and run a few routine tests.
Your doctor may also use a device called an ophthalmoscope to look at the blood vessels in your eyes. Doctors can see if these vessels have thickened, narrowed, or burst, which may be a sign of high blood pressure. Your doctor will also use a stethoscope to listen to your heart and the sound of blood flowing through your arteries. In some cases, a chest x-ray andelectrocardiogrammay be needed.
Blood pressure readings
Blood pressure readings measure the two parts of blood pressure:systolic and diastolicpressures. Systolic pressure is the force of blood flow through an artery when the heart beats. Diastolic pressure is the force of blood flow within blood vessels when the heart rests between beats.
A blood pressure reading measures both the systolic and diastolic forces, with the systolic pressure listed first. The numbers show your pressure in units of millimeters of mercury (mm Hg)—how high the pressure inside your arteries would be able to raise a column of mercury. For example, a reading of 120/80 mm Hg means a systolic pressure of 120 mm Hg and diastolic pressure of 80 mm Hg.
Most doctors do not make a final diagnosis of high blood pressure until they measure your blood pressure several times (at least 2 blood pressure readings on 3 different days). Some doctors ask their patients to wear a portable machine that measures their blood pressure over the course of several days. This machine may help the doctor find out whether a patient has true high blood pressure or what is known as “white-coat hypertension.” White-coat hypertension is a condition in which a patient’s blood pressure rises during a visit to a doctor when anxiety and stress probably play a role.
How often should blood pressure be checked?
Adults should have their blood pressure checked at least once a year. Many grocery or drug stores have blood pressure machines that you can use for free any time you visit the stores. Keep in mind, though, that these machines may not give you a correct reading.
Blood pressure monitors for use at home can be bought at drug stores, department stores, and other places. Again, these monitors may not always give you a correct reading. You should always compare your machine’s reading with a reading from your doctor’s machine to make sure they are the same. Remember that any measurement above normal should prompt a visit to the doctor, who can thentalk with you aboutthe best course of action.
How high is high?
According to guidelines from the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiology (ACC), a reading below 120/80 mm Hg is classified as normal blood pressure. Those with a blood pressure reading anywhere from 120/80 up to 129/80 are classified within a category called elevated blood pressure. Hypertension is defined as a reading of 130/80 or higher.
The classification chart is based on adults, aged 18 and older, who are not taking high blood pressure medicines and who are not acutely ill. If systolic and diastolic measurements fall into different categories, the higher category should be used to classify the person’s blood pressure status.
How is high blood pressure treated?
The first course of action involves lifestyle changes, especially for people with elevated blood pressure.
- Start eating a low-fat and low-saltdiet.
- Loseweight, if you need to.
- Begin a regularexerciseprogram.
- Learn to manage stress.
- If yousmoke, quit.
- Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all. Remember that moderate intake is an average of one or two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women.
- Controlobstructive sleep apnea(OSA), if you have it. Many patients who get their OSA under control see improvements in their blood pressure.
Medicines are available if these changes do not help control your blood pressure within 3 to 6 months.Diuretics help rid your body of water and sodium.ACE inhibitorsblock the enzyme that raises your blood pressure. Other types of medicines—beta blockers,calcium channel blockers, and other vasodilators—work in different ways, but their overall effect is to help relax and widen your blood vessels and reduce the pressure inside the vessel. [See also the free government publication“Medicines to Help You: High Blood Pressure”(PDF) from the US Food and Drug Administration.]
Tags: blood pressure, diastolic pressure, essential hypertension, HBP, HTN, hypertension, primary hypertension, systolic blood pressure
- Lose a little weight. ...
- Cut back on alcohol. ...
- Move more. ...
- Feed healthy blood pressure. ...
- Quit smoking. ...
- Soothe stress.
High blood pressure is a common condition that affects the body's arteries. It's also called hypertension. If you have high blood pressure, the force of the blood pushing against the artery walls is consistently too high. The heart has to work harder to pump blood.
- are overweight.
- eat too much salt and do not eat enough fruit and vegetables.
- do not do enough exercise.
- drink too much alcohol or coffee (or other caffeine-based drinks)
- do not get much sleep or have disturbed sleep.
- are over 65.
New Blood Pressure Standards for Seniors
The ideal blood pressure for seniors is now considered 120/80 (systolic/diastolic), which is the same for younger adults. The high blood pressure range for seniors starts at hypertension stage 1, spanning between 130-139/80-89.
It's important to remember that high blood pressure is not usually a death sentence. As long as you're regularly working with your doctor on treatment and managing your blood pressure levels, you will likely live a long life. This includes making significant changes to your health and lifestyle for the better.
There is no cure for high blood pressure. But treatment can lower blood pressure that is too high. If it is mild, high blood pressure may sometimes be brought under control by making changes to a healthier lifestyle.
- Blurry or double vision.
- Heart palpitations.
- Shortness of breath.
- Nausea and/or vomiting.
- Resistant hypertension. Resistant hypertension is the name given to high blood pressure that's difficult to control and requires multiple medications. ...
- Malignant hypertension. Malignant hypertension is the term used to describe high blood pressure that causes damage to your organs. ...
- Isolated systolic hypertension.
- Lose extra pounds and watch your waistline. Blood pressure often increases as weight increases. ...
- Exercise regularly. ...
- Eat a healthy diet. ...
- Reduce salt (sodium) in your diet. ...
- Limit alcohol. ...
- Get a good night's sleep. ...
- Reduce stress. ...
- Monitor your blood pressure at home and get regular checkups.
Insomnia is linked to high blood pressure and heart disease. Over time, poor sleep can also lead to unhealthy habits that can hurt your heart, including higher stress levels, less motivation to be physically active, and unhealthy food choices.
Among the known causes of secondary hypertension, kidney disease ranks highest. Hypertension can also be triggered by tumors or other abnormalities that cause the adrenal glands (small glands that sit atop the kidneys) to secrete excess amounts of the hormones that elevate blood pressure.
Blood pressure has a daily pattern. Usually, blood pressure starts to rise a few hours before a person wakes up. It continues to rise during the day, peaking in midday. Blood pressure typically drops in the late afternoon and evening.
Call 911 or emergency medical services if your blood pressure is 180/120 mm Hg or greater and you have chest pain, shortness of breath, or symptoms of stroke. Stroke symptoms include numbness or tingling, trouble speaking, or changes in vision.
Normal pressure is 120/80 or lower. Your blood pressure is considered high (stage 1) 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.
The new guidelines change nothing if you're younger than 60. But if you're 60 or older, the target has moved up: Your goal is to keep your blood pressure at 150/90 or lower. If you have kidney disease or diabetes, your target used to be 130/80 or lower; now it's 140/90 or lower.
High blood pressure can cause many complications. High blood pressure (hypertension) can quietly damage the body for years before symptoms develop. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to disability, a poor quality of life, or even a deadly heart attack or stroke.
Fortunately, high blood pressure is treatable and preventable. To lower your risk, get your blood pressure checked regularly and take action to control your blood pressure if it is high.
Your body's network of blood vessels, known as the vascular system, changes with age. Arteries get stiffer, causing blood pressure to go up. This can be true even for people who have heart-healthy habits and feel just fine.
Unfortunately there is no cure for high blood pressure currently, but you can take steps to manage it even without medication. Here are 7 ways to lower your blood pressure naturally: Exercise! Regular exercise is great for your overall well-being, and it can also help with lowering your BP.
Your body produces a surge of hormones when you're in a stressful situation. These hormones temporarily increase your blood pressure by causing your heart to beat faster and your blood vessels to narrow. There's no proof that stress by itself causes long-term high blood pressure.
Stage Four of Hypertension
Systolic is at 160 mm Hg or higher and diastolic is at 100 mm Hg or higher. At this point, a person's hypertension would be classified as severe. Due to this, they would most likely be recommended a two-drug therapy to try and bring their blood pressure down.
- Blurred vision.
- Shortness of breath.
- Chest pain.
When symptoms do occur, they can include early morning headaches, nosebleeds, irregular heart rhythms, vision changes, and buzzing in the ears. Severe hypertension can cause fatigue, nausea, vomiting, confusion, anxiety, chest pain, and muscle tremors.
More severe forms may exhibit fatigue, nausea, vomiting, confusion, anxiety, chest pain, and muscle tremors. If left untreated, hypertension can cause persistent chest pain (also called angina), heart attacks, heart failure, and an irregular heartbeat, which can lead to a sudden death.
What causes high blood pressure? High blood pressure usually develops over time. It can happen because of unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as not getting enough regular physical activity. Certain health conditions, such as diabetes and having obesity, can also increase the risk for developing high blood pressure.
|Age||Normal Systolic Range||Normal Diastolic Range|
|Adolescent (14–18 years)||90–120 mm Hg||50–80 mm Hg|
|Adult (19–40 years)||95–135 mm Hg||60–80 mm Hg|
|Adult (41–60 years)||110–145 mm Hg||70–90 mm Hg|
|Older adult (61 and older)||95–145 mm Hg||70–90 mm Hg|
But there is far more to a blood pressure–friendly diet than minimizing salt intake. Fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy foods, beans, nuts, whole-grain carbohydrates, and unsaturated fats also have healthful effects on blood pressure.
Calcium channel blockers reduce blood pressure by widening your blood vessels. Common examples are amlodipine, felodipine and nifedipine. Other medicines, such as diltiazem and verapamil, are also available.
One of the tools your doctor may use to dial back your blood pressure is DASH -- Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. It's not a diet but a way of eating. You cut back on salt, load up on fruits and veggies, and round out your meals with whole grains, fish, poultry, nuts, legumes, and low-fat dairy.
Sleeping on the left side is the best sleeping position for hypertension because it relieves blood pressure on blood vessels that return blood to the heart.
Possible causes of resistant hypertension
The accumulation of artery-clogging plaque in blood vessels that nourish the kidneys, a condition called renal artery stenosis. Sleep problems, such as the breath-holding type of snoring known as obstructive sleep apnea.
Sleeping on the left side is the best sleeping position for high blood pressure, as it relieves pressure on the blood vessels that return blood to the heart. These vessels are located on the right side of the body and can be compressed by slowing its circulation if you sleep on your right side.”
Chronic exposure to high BP leads to damage of target organs, such as heart, kidney, and brain. In populations with high cardiovascular risk, this damage of target organs might better represent exposure to high BP than the BP measurement itself because of antihypertensive treatment effects and cardiovascular aging.
Night-time BP surge is triggered by specific triggers (OSA episode, arousal, rapid-eye-movement sleep, and nocturia) and is augmented by the impaired baroreflex by increased sympathetic tonus and vascular stiffness (Figure 1).
(It's best to take your blood pressure from your left arm if you are right-handed. However, you can use the other arm if you have been told to do so by your healthcare provider.) Rest in a chair next to a table for 5 to 10 minutes. (Your left arm should rest comfortably at heart level.)
Traditionally, healthcare providers have taken blood pressure readings on the left arm. That's because the heart sits slightly to the left of the midline in your chest. The body's largest blood vessel, the aorta, exits the left side of the heart and transports blood through blood vessels throughout the body.
The bottom line. Your body position can impact your blood pressure reading. According to older research, blood pressure may be higher while lying down. But more recent studies have found that blood pressure may be lower while lying down versus sitting.
Q. When I am monitoring my blood pressure, which number is most important — top, bottom, or both? A. While both numbers in a blood pressure reading are essential for diagnosing and treating high blood pressure, doctors primarily focus on the top number, also known as systolic pressure.
Caffeine may cause a short, but dramatic increase in your blood pressure, even if you don't have high blood pressure. It's unclear what causes this spike in blood pressure. The blood pressure response to caffeine differs from person to person.
Aspirin traditionally was assumed to have no effect on blood pressure,5 but in recent studies, aspirin intake at bedtime compared with intake on awakening considerably reduced blood pressure.
Healthy blood pressure is less than 120/80. Prehypertension is a systolic pressure of 120 to 139 or a diastolic pressure of 80 to 89. Stage-1 high blood pressure ranges from a systolic pressure of 140 to 159 or a diastolic pressure of 90 to 99. Stage-2 high blood pressure is over 160/100.
- reduce the amount of salt you eat and have a generally healthy diet.
- cut back on alcohol.
- lose weight if you're overweight.
- exercise regularly.
- cut down on caffeine.
- stop smoking.
A review of 9 studies including 641 participants showed that taking cinnamon reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure by an average of 6.2 mm Hg and 3.9 mm Hg, respectively.
Low-dose thiazide diuretics remain first-line therapy for older patients. Beta blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, angiotensin-receptor blockers, and calcium channel blockers are second-line medications that should be selected based on comorbidities and risk factors.
Diastolic BP (DBP) also increases with age but at a lower rate than SBP; DBP may even fall at late ages. Women show lower SBP and DBP than men up until the age of menopause, when women's SBP surpasses that of men. By age 70 years, more than three quarters of US adults have hypertension.
Chronic Hypertension is the term for having high blood pressure and increases your risk for heart attack, stroke, heart failure, or kidney disease.
High blood pressure can damage your arteries by making them less elastic, which decreases the flow of blood and oxygen to your heart and leads to heart disease. In addition, decreased blood flow to the heart can cause: Chest pain, also called angina.
- Eating a heart-healthy diet with less salt.
- Getting regular physical activity.
- Maintaining a healthy weight or losing weight.
- Limiting alcohol.
- Not smoking.
- Getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep daily.
In other words, once blood pressure rises above normal, subtle but harmful brain changes can occur rather quickly—perhaps within a year or two. And those changes may be hard to reverse, even if blood pressure is nudged back into the normal range with treatment.
Hypertension is not heart disease. However, hypertension can be a major contributing factor for heart disease, which is why hypertension is not something you want to ignore.
Blood pressure is mostly a silent disease
Unfortunately, high blood pressure can happen without feeling any abnormal symptoms. Moderate or severe headaches, anxiety, shortness of breath, nosebleeds, palpitations, or feeling of pulsations in the neck are some signs of high blood pressure.
High blood pressure can lead to peripheral arterial disease (PAD), where narrowing of the blood vessels restricts the blood flow to the legs and feet, causing pain.
Damage to the arteries
High blood pressure (hypertension) gradually increases the pressure of blood flowing through the arteries. Hypertension may cause: Damaged and narrowed arteries. High blood pressure can damage the cells of the arteries' inner lining.
- Common examples are enalapril, lisinopril, perindopril and ramipril.
- The most common side effect is a persistent dry cough. ...
- Common examples are candesartan, irbesartan, losartan, valsartan and olmesartan.
While only 25% of men ages 35 to 44 have high blood pressure, 64% of men from age 65 to 74, do. Women suffer from the condition at similar rates, but surpass men after age 75.