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February 23, 2022

High blood pressure and what to know about it

High blood pressure means – When doctors measure a person’s blood pressure, they measure the force the blood exerts on the artery wall as it flows through it.

If blood pressure stays too high for too long, it can cause serious damage to blood vessels.

This damage can lead to a variety of complications, some of which can be life-threatening. These include heart failure, vision loss, stroke, kidney disease, and other health problems.

There are many ways to control high blood pressure, or hypertension. but regular screening can help a person know if they need to take preventive action.

In the United States, about 75 millionTrusted Source people, or 29% of the population, have high blood pressure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In this article, we look at what causes high blood pressure and how to treat it. We also explain blood pressure readings that health authorities consider healthy and too high.

What is high blood pressure?

high blood pressure

Leaving high blood pressure untreated may damage the blood vessels.

The heart is a muscle that pumps blood throughout the body. As it moves, the blood delivers oxygen to the body’s vital organs.

Sometimes, a problem in the body makes it harder for the heart to pump blood. This can happen, for example, if an artery becomes too narrow.

Consistently high blood pressure can put stress on the artery walls. This can lead to many health problems, some of which can be life-threatening.

High blood pressure chart

According to the American Heart AssociationTrusted Source (AHA). the chart below shows measures of normal and high blood pressure.

Doctors measure blood pressure in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg).

Systolic blood pressure measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart contracts and is the top number on blood pressure readings. Diastolic, which is the lower number, represents the blood pressure when the heart is resting between beats.

Systolic (mm Hg)Diastolic (mm Hg)
NormalBelow 120Below 80
Elevated (hypertension)120–129Below 80
Stage 1 hypertension130–13980–90
Stage 2 hypertension140 or above90 or above
Hypertensive crisisOver 180Over 120

What is a normal blood pressure? Find out here.

Signs and symptoms

Most people with high blood pressure will not experience any symptoms, which is why people often refer to hypertension as the “silent killer”.

However, once the blood pressure reaches about 180/120 mm Hg, it becomes hypertensive, which is a medical emergency.

At this stage, a person may have:

Anyone experiencing these symptoms should see a doctor immediately.

Symptoms in women

The hormonal factors that mean high blood pressure risk may be different in men and women.

Factors that may increase the riskTrusted Source of high blood pressure include:

During pregnancy, high blood pressure can be a sign of preeclampsia, a dangerous condition that can affect both the woman and her unborn baby.

Symptoms of preeclampsia include:

  • headaches
  • change of vision
  • stomachache
  • swelling due to edema

All women should follow the guidelines for screening and attend all health checks, especially during pregnancy.

All women should follow screening guidelines and attend all health screenings, especially during pregnancy.

Symptoms in teens

Teenagers can develop high blood pressure due to obesity or a pre-existing medical condition.

Possible medical factors includeTrusted Source:

  • aspects of metabolic syndrome, such as type 2 diabetes
  • kidney disease
  • endocrine disease, affecting hormones
  • vascular disease, which affects the blood vessels
  • a neurological condition

These conditions may have their own symptoms.

Symptoms of high blood pressure, if they occur, will be the same as in other groups.

Symptoms in children

High blood pressure can affect children. Being overweight and having diabetes increases the risk, but it can also be a sign of:

  •  tumor
  • heart problems
  • kidney problems
  • thyroid problems
  • a genetic condition, such as Cushing’s syndrome

For adults, high blood pressure usually doesn’t cause symptoms in children.

However, if symptoms do occur, they may include:

They may also have signs of another condition.

Symptoms in babies

Babies and young children can sometimes develop high blood pressure due to an underlying health condition, such as kidney or heart disease.

Symptoms may include:

  • failed to grow
  • convulsion
  • irritability
  • lethargy
  • respiratory distress

Other symptoms will depend on the condition causing the high blood pressure.


High blood pressure can occur when certain changes occur in the body or if a person is born with specific genetic traits that cause a health condition.

It can affect people with:

Sometimes, there is no obvious cause. In this case, the doctor will diagnose primary hypertension.

Following a high-fat diet, carrying excess weight, drinking a lot of alcohol, smoking, and using certain medications also increase the risk of the disease.

How to lower blood pressure

Treatment will depend on several factors, including:

  • how high high is the blood pressure
  • Risk of heart disease or stroke

Your doctor will recommend different treatments when your blood pressure rises. For slightly high blood pressure, they may recommend lifestyle changes and blood pressure monitoring.

If your blood pressure is high, they will recommend medication. Options can change over time, depending on the severity of the hypertension and whether complications arise, such as kidney disease. Some people may need a combination of different medications.


Common drugsTrusted Source for treating high blood pressure include:

1) Angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors

ACE inhibitors block the action of certain hormones that regulate blood pressure, such as angiotensin II. Angiotensin II constricts the arteries and increases blood volume, leading to increased blood pressure.

ACE inhibitors can reduce the blood supply to the kidneys, making them less effective. Therefore, people taking ACE inhibitors need to have regular blood tests.

People should not use ACE inhibitors if they:

  • Pregnant
  • have a condition that affects the blood supply to the kidneys

ACE inhibitors can cause the following side effects, which usually go away after a few days:

  • dizzy
  • weariness
  • weak
  • headache
  • persistent dry cough

If side effects are persistent or too bothersome to manage, your doctor may prescribe an angiotensin II receptor antagonist instead.

These alternative medicines usually cause fewer side effects, but they can include dizziness, headache, and increased blood potassium levels.

2) Calcium channel blockers

Calcium channel blockers (CCBs) aim to lower calcium levels in the blood vessels. This will relax the smooth muscle in the blood vessels, causing the muscles to contract less, the arteries to widen, and the blood pressure to drop.

CCBs may not always be appropriate for people with a history of heart disease, liver disease, or circulation problems. Your doctor can advise you on taking a CCB and what type of CCB is safe to use.

The following side effects may occur, but they usually go away after a few days:

  • redness of the skin, often on the cheeks or neck
  • headaches
  • swollen ankles and feet
  • dizzy
  • weariness
  • skin rash
  • swollen abdomen, in rare cases

Learn more here about calcium channel blockers.

3) Thiazide diuretics

Thiazide diuretics help the kidneys get rid of sodium and water. This reduces volume and blood pressure.

The following side effects may occur and some of them may persist:

  • low blood potassium levels, which can affect heart and kidney function
  • impaired glucose tolerance
  • erectile dysfunction

People taking thiazide diuretics should have regular blood and urine tests to monitor blood sugar and potassium levels.

4) Beta-blockers

Beta-blockers were once popular for treating high blood pressure, but now doctors tend to prescribe them only when other treatments have failed.

Beta-blockers slow the heart rate and reduce the force of the heart, causing a drop in blood pressure.

Side effects may include:

  • weariness
  • cold hands and feet
  • slow heartbeat
  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • Less common side effects are:
  • sleep disorders
  • nightmares
  • erectile dysfunction

Beta-blockers are often the standard medicine for people with very high blood pressure, called a hypertensive crisis.

5) Renin inhibitors

Aliskiren (Tekturna, Rasilez) reduces the production of renin, an enzyme that the kidneys produce.

Renin helps produce a hormone that narrows blood vessels and raises blood pressure. Reducing this hormone causes blood vessels to widen and blood pressure to drop.

This drug is relatively new, and healthcare professionals are still determining its optimal use and dosage.

Possible side effects include:

  • diarrhea
  • dizzy
  • flu-like symptoms
  • weariness
  • cough

It is essential to read the packaging of any medication to check for interactions with other medications.

Learn more detail here blood pressure medication here.


Dietary management can be an effective way to prevent and treat high blood pressure

Plant-based foods

A healthy, balanced diet includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, vegetable oils and omegas, and good-quality, unrefined carbohydrates, such as whole grains. People who include animal products in their diet should cut out all fat and avoid processed meats.

Lowering salt intake

Experts recommend reducing salt consumption and increasing potassium intake to control or prevent high blood pressure. Limit salt intake to less than 5–6 gramsTrusted Source .

Healthful fats

In moderation, plant-based fat sources, such as avocados, nuts, olive oil, and omega oils, can have health benefits. People should limit their intake of saturated and trans fats, which are common in processed and animal-based foods.

The DASH diet

Health experts recommend the DASH diet for people with high blood pressure. The DASH diet focuses on an eating plan that emphasizes whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, and low-fat dairy products.

Food groupsNumber of weekly servings for those eating 1,600–3,100 calories a dayNumber of weekly servings for those on a 2,000-calorie diet
Grains and grain products6–127–8
Mostly low-fat or non-fat dairy foods2–42–3
Lean meat, fish, or poultry1.5–2.52
Nuts, seeds, and legumes3–64–5
Fats and candy2–4Limited

What foods are good for lowering blood pressure? Find out here.


Several studiesTrusted Source indicate that drinking a little alcohol can help lower blood pressure. However, others reportTrusted Source the opposite, noting that even moderate amounts can raise blood pressure levels.

People who regularly drink more than a moderate amount of alcohol will almost always have high blood pressure


Studies on the relationship between caffeine and blood pressure have produced conflicting results. A report published in 2017 concluded that a moderate amount of coffee appears to be safe for people with high blood pressure.

Home remedies

The AHA recommendTrusted Source a range of lifestyle adjustments that can help lower blood pressure, such as:

  •  Stress management
  • Quitting smoking
  • Healthy eating
  • do exercise
  • following any treatment plan your doctor prescribes

Discuss any planned lifestyle changes with a healthcare professional before recommending them

Regular exercise

high blood pressure

Regular exercise may help lower blood pressure.

The AHA notes that most healthy people should exercise for at least 150 minutesTrusted Source This could be 30 minutes – or three to 10 minutes a day – on 5 days of the week.

This amount of exercise is also suitable for people with high blood pressure.

However, a person who has not exercised in a while or has a new diagnosis should talk to their doctor before starting a new physical activity program to make sure the choices they make are appropriate. suit them.

Losing weight

StudiesTrusted Source have revealed that losing at least 5–10 pounds of weight can help lower blood pressure.

Weight loss will also improve the effectiveness of blood pressure medications.

Ways to achieve and maintain a healthy weight include:

  • exercise regularly
  • following a diet that emphasizes plant-based foods and limits your intake of added fats and sugars

For more advice on maintaining weight loss, click here.


Increasing sleep alone cannot treat high blood pressure, but getting too little sleep and poor sleep quality can make it worse.

A 2015 analysisTrusted Source of data from a Korean national health survey found that people who had less than 5 hours of sleep per night were more likely to have hypertension.

In this article, you can find more tips on how to control high blood pressure

Natural remedies

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), the following may help lowerTrusted Source blood pressure:

  • meditation, yoga, qi gong, and tai chi
  • biofeedback and transcendental meditation
  • supplements such as garlic, flaxseed, green or black tea, probiotics, cocoa and rose (Hibiscus sabdariffa)

However, the NCCIH added that there is not yet enough evidence to confirm that these can make a difference..

They also warn that:

Some supplements may have side effects. They can increase blood pressure or interact with medications.

Meditation and exercise therapies are generally safe, but some poses may not be suitable for people with high blood pressure.

Anyone considering an alternative therapy should talk to their doctor first.

Get some tips to lower blood pressure naturally.

Diastolic and systolic pressure

Measuring blood pressure has two parts:

Systolic pressure: This is the blood pressure when the heart contracts.

Diastolic pressure: This is the blood pressure between heartbeats.

If the blood pressure is 120/80 mm Hg, that means the systolic pressure is 120 mm Hg and the diastolic pressure is 80 mm Hg.

Learn more here about what makes up systolic and diastolic blood pressure.


There are different devices for measuring blood pressure. Your doctor will usually use a manual blood pressure monitor with a stethoscope. This has a pressure cuff that they place around the person’s arm.

The digital devices are suitable for home use and they are available at pharmacies and purchase online.

Read our review of the best home blood pressure monitors available for home use

When a person has their blood pressure measured, they will have one of the followingTrusted Source:

Normal: Less than 120/80 mm Hg.

Advanced: 120–129 / 80 mm Hg. At this stage, your doctor will advise you to make lifestyle changes to bring your blood pressure back to normal.

Stage 1: 130–139 / 80–89 mm Hg hypertension.

Stage 2 hypertension: Over 140/90 mm Hg.

Hypertensive crisis: 180/120 mm Hg or more.

A person with a hypertensive crisis needs immediate medical attention.

A person will often need more than one reading to confirm a diagnosis, as many different factors can affect the results.

Blood pressure can fluctuate:

  • by time of day
  • when a person feels anxious or stressed
  • after eating

However, your doctor will take immediate action if your blood pressure readings show that your blood pressure is too high or if there are signs of organ damage or other complications.

Additional tests

Other tests can help confirm the diagnosis.

Urine and blood tests: These tests can check for potential problems, such as a urine infection or kidney damage.

Exercise stress test: A health care professional will measure a person’s blood pressure before, during, and after using a stationary bike or treadmill. The results can offer important clues about heart health.

Electrocardiogram (ECG): An electrocardiogram checks the electrical activity in the heart. For a person with high blood pressure and high cholesterol a doctor may order an electrocardiogram as a basis for future comparisons of results.

Changes in future results may indicate developing coronary artery disease or thickening of the heart wall.

Holter monitoring: For 24 hours, the individual wears a portable ECG device that connects to their chest via electrodes. The device can provide an overview of blood pressure throughout the day and show how it changes as activity levels vary.

Echocardiogram: Ultrasound waves show that the heart is moving. Your doctor will be able to detect problems, such as thickening of the heart’s walls, faulty heart valves, blood clots, and too much fluid around the heart.

Dangers and side effects of hypertension

Healthy blood pressure is essential for maintaining body functions.

High blood pressure can have a severe impactTrusted Source on:

Cardiovascular system: High blood pressure can cause arteries to harden, increasing the risk of blockages.

Heart: A blockage can reduce blood flow to the heart, increasing the risk of angina, heart failure, or a heart attack.

Brain: A blockage in an artery can reduce or prevent blood flow to the brain, leading to a stroke.

Kidneys: High blood pressure can lead to kidney damage and chronic kidney disease.

All of these effects can be life-threatening.

Can you take decongestants?

Decongestants are a helpful over-the-counter remedy when people have a stuffy or runny nose, but some decongestants can raiseTrusted Source blood pressure.

Ingredients that can have this effect include:

  • oxymetazoline
  • phenylephrine
  • pseudoephedrine

A person should explain to their pharmacist that they have high blood pressure and ask them to recommend a suitable option

Is high blood pressure genetic?

The main risk factors for high blood pressure may be environmental, but genetic factors may play a role. Hypertension can run in families, and people from certain ethnic and racial backgrounds appear to be at higher risk.

However, according to the CDC,Trusted Source people in a family often have similar lifestyles, such as dietary choices..

If a person has genetic factors that increase susceptibility to high blood pressure and they also make lifestyle choices that increase this risk, they are more likely to develop hypertension.

How much sodium per day?

The AHA recommendTrusted Source that people limit their salt intake to no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day, and preferably to 1,500 mg. The average person in the United States now consumes more than 3,400 mg of sodium per day.

For most people, the natural sodium content in vegetables is enough for their body’s needs. Avoiding salt shakes and eating less processed and pre-ground foods are good ways to cut down on salt intake.


Without treatment or measures to manage blood pressure, excessive pressure on the artery walls can lead to vascular damage, which is a form of cardiovascular disease. It can also damage several vital organs.

Possible complications of high blood pressure include:

  • the hit
  • heart attack and heart failure
  • blood clots
  • aneurysm
  • kidney disease
  • thickened, narrowed, or torn blood vessels in the eye.
  • metabolic syndrome
  • brain function and memory problems

Finding early treatment and controlling blood pressure can help prevent many health complications

Risk factors

Risk factorsTrusted Source for high blood pressure include:

Age: The risk increases with age as blood vessels become less flexible.

Family history and genetic factors: People with close family members who have high blood pressure are more likely to develop the condition.


Ethnic background: African Americans have a higher riskTrusted Source of developing hypertension than other groups in the United States.

Obesity and overweight: People who are overweight or obese are more prone to high blood pressure.

Sedentary: A sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of disease.

Smoking: When people smoke, blood vessels narrow and blood pressure increases. Smoking also reduces the oxygen content in the blood, so the heart pumps faster to compensate. This also increases blood pressure.

Heavy drinking: Heavy drinking increases the risk of blood pressure and its complications, such as heart disease.

Diet: A diet high in unsaturated fats and salt increases the risk of high blood pressure.

High cholesterol: More than 50%Trusted Source People with high blood pressure have high cholesterol. Consuming unhealthy fats can contribute to cholesterol buildup in the arteries..

Mental stress: Stress can have a serious impact on blood pressure, especially when it’s in the chronic phase. It can occur as a result of both socioeconomic and psychosocial factors.

Stress: Prolonged stress can lead to high blood pressure and it can increase the risk of unhealthy choices, such as smoking.

Diabetes: High blood pressure often co-occurs with type 1 diabetes. Following a treatment plan to control diabetes can reduce your risk.

Pregnancy: High blood pressure is more likely during pregnancy due to hormonal changes. High blood pressure is also a symptom of preeclampsia, a potentially serious placental disorder.

Sleep Apnea: People with sleep apnea stop breathing during sleep. Experts say there is a link to high blood pressure

When to see a doctor

Many people with high blood pressure do not have symptoms. For this reason, they must have regular screening, especially those with a higher risk.

This group includes:

  • people who are obese or overweight
  • African American
  • people with a history of high blood pressure
  • people with blood pressure in the upper limit of normal (between 130–139 / 85–89 mm Hg)
  • people with certain health conditions

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends annual screening for:

  • adults aged 40 and over
  • people at high risk for high blood pressure
  • Those at higher risk include those who:
  • have high to normal blood pressure (130 to 139/85 to 89 mm Hg)
  • overweight or obese
  • are African Americans

Adults 18–39 years of age with normal blood pressure (less than 130/85 mm Hg) and no other risk factors should have additional screening every 3 to 5 years.

If rechecking at the doctor’s office shows that blood pressure has risen, the USPSTF recommends that the person use a 24-hour ambulatory sphygmomanometer to further assess their blood pressure. If the blood pressure continues to be high, the doctor will diagnose it as hypertension.

The USPSTF do  currently does not recommend routine screening for people 17 years of age and younger.

Read the article in Spanish.




Originally posted 2021-10-24 11:29:40.

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