Very High Blood Pressure Numbers – You may be more likely to have high blood pressure due to genetics, age, and if you have certain health conditions. Treatment may include medication.
The blood pressure measurement takes into account the amount of blood flowing through your blood vessels and the amount of resistance the blood encounters as the heart pumps.
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High blood pressure or hypertension occurs when the force of the blood pushing against your blood vessels is consistently too high. In this article, we’ll cover the basics of high blood pressure, including symptoms, causes, how to treat it, and more.
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Narrow blood vessels, also known as arteries, create more resistance to blood flow. The narrower your arteries are, the more resistance there will be and the higher your blood pressure will be. In the long term, high blood pressure can cause health problems, including heart disease.
Hypertension is quite common. In fact, since the guidelines changed in 2017, nearly half of American adults could now be diagnosed with the condition.
Hypertension usually develops over several years. Usually, you don’t notice any symptoms. But even without symptoms, high blood pressure can cause damage to your blood vessels and organs, especially your brain, heart, eyes and kidneys.
Early detection is important. Regular blood pressure readings can help you and your doctor notice any changes. If your blood pressure is elevated, your doctor may have you check your blood pressure for several weeks to see if the number stays elevated or drops to normal levels.
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Treatment for hypertension includes both prescription medications and healthy lifestyle changes. If the condition is not treated, it can lead to health problems, including heart attack and stroke.
Two numbers create a blood pressure reading. Systolic blood pressure (the main number) shows the pressure in your arteries when your heart is beating and pumping blood. Diastolic pressure (the bottom number) is the pressure in your arteries between your heartbeats.
Blood pressure measurement is taken with a blood pressure cuff. For an accurate reading, it is important to have a cuff that fits. Poor fit of the cuff can give inaccurate readings.
Blood pressure readings are different for children and teenagers. Ask your child’s doctor about the health range for your child if you are required to monitor their blood pressure.
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Hypertension is generally a silent condition. Many people will not experience any symptoms. It can take years or even decades for the condition to reach levels severe enough for symptoms to become apparent. Even then, these symptoms can be attributed to other issues.
, contrary to popular belief, severe hypertension does not usually cause nosebleeds or headaches—unless someone is in a hypertensive crisis.
The best way to know if you have high blood pressure is to measure your blood pressure regularly. Most doctor’s offices take a blood pressure reading at every appointment.
If you only have an annual physical, talk to your doctor about your risks for high blood pressure and other measurements you may need to help you monitor your blood pressure.
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For example, if you have a family history of heart disease or have risk factors for developing the disease, your doctor may recommend that you check your blood pressure twice a year. This helps you and your doctor monitor any problems before they become problematic.
Essential hypertension is also called primary hypertension. This type of hypertension develops over time. Most people have this type of high blood pressure.
Diagnosing hypertension is as simple as taking your blood pressure. Most doctor’s offices check blood pressure as part of a routine visit. If you don’t get a blood pressure reading at your next appointment, ask for one.
If your blood pressure is high, your doctor may ask you to take more readings over several days or weeks. Hypertension is rarely diagnosed after just one reading.
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Your doctor needs to see evidence of a persistent problem. This is because your environment can contribute to high blood pressure, such as the stress you might feel in the doctor’s office. Also, blood pressure levels change throughout the day.
If your blood pressure remains high, your doctor will likely do more tests to rule out underlying conditions. These tests may include:
These tests can help your doctor identify any secondary problems that are causing your high blood pressure. They can also look at the effects that high blood pressure may have had on your organs.
During this time, your doctor may start treating your high blood pressure. Early treatment can reduce the risk of permanent damage.
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Several factors help your doctor determine the best treatment option for you. These factors include the type of high blood pressure you have and what causes have been identified.
If your doctor diagnoses you with primary hypertension, lifestyle changes can help lower your high blood pressure. If lifestyle changes alone aren’t enough or if they stop working, your doctor may prescribe medication.
If your doctor discovers an underlying problem causing your high blood pressure, treatment will focus on that other condition. For example, if a drug you’ve started taking causes your blood pressure to rise, your doctor will try other drugs that don’t 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 lower your blood pressure.
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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 improve your treatment.
Many people go through a trial and error phase with blood pressure medication. Your doctor may need to try different medications until they find one or a combination that works for you.
Healthy lifestyle changes can help you control the factors that cause high blood pressure. Here are some of the most common.
A heart-healthy diet is vital to help reduce high blood pressure. It is also important for managing high blood pressure under control and reducing the risk of complications. These complications include heart disease, stroke, and heart attack.
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In addition to helping you lose weight (if your doctor has recommended it), exercise can help lower your blood pressure naturally and strengthen your cardiovascular system.
If you live with obesity, maintaining a moderate weight with a heart-healthy diet and increased physical activity can help lower your blood pressure.
If you are a smoker and have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, your doctor will probably advise you to stop smoking. Chemicals in cigarette smoke can damage body tissues and harden blood vessel walls.
If you regularly drink a lot of alcohol or have an alcohol addiction, get help to reduce the amount you drink or stop altogether. Drinking too much alcohol can raise blood pressure.
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If you have risk factors for high blood pressure, you can take steps now to reduce your risk for the condition and its complications.
Slowly continue to eat more servings of heart-healthy plants. Aim to eat more than seven servings of fruit and vegetables each day. Then try adding one more serving per day for 2 weeks. After those 2 weeks, aim to add one more serving. The goal is to have
Try to limit the amount of sugary sweet foods, such as flavored yogurts, cereals and sodas, that you eat each day. Packaged foods hide unnecessary sugar, so be sure to read the labels.
People living with high blood pressure and those at increased risk for heart disease may be advised by their doctor to maintain their daily sodium intake.
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The best way to reduce sodium is to cook fresh food more often and limit the amount of fast food or prepackaged foods you eat, which can sometimes be very high in sodium.
If your doctor has recommended that you lose weight, talk to him about an optimal weight loss goal for you. of
Recommends a weight loss goal of one to two pounds per week. This can be achieved through a more nutritious diet and increased physical activity.
Enlisting the help of a trainer or fitness app, and maybe even a nutritionist, are all methods to help you learn how to make the best choices for your body and lifestyle.
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Keep a record of your blood pressure readings and go to regular appointments with your doctor. This can help your doctor see any potential problems before the condition progresses.
People with hypertension can give birth to healthy children despite having the condition. But it can be dangerous for both the parent and the baby if it is not closely monitored and treated during pregnancy.
. For example, pregnant women with hypertension may experience reduced kidney function. Babies born to parents born with hypertension may have a low birth weight or be born prematurely.
Some people may develop high blood pressure during pregnancy. Several types of problems can develop with high blood pressure. The condition often reverses after the baby is born. Having high blood pressure during pregnancy can increase your risk of developing high blood pressure later in life.
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In some cases, pregnant women with hypertension may develop preeclampsia during their pregnancy. This condition of elevated blood pressure can cause complications in the kidneys and other organs. This can lead to high levels of protein in the urine, problems with liver function, fluid in the lungs or vision problems.
As this condition worsens, the risks to both mother and baby increase. Preeclampsia can
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