Hypertension: What Is Considered High Blood Pressure?

What Is Hypertension?

high blood pressure

Hypertension is simply the medical term for high blood pressure. High blood pressure is any measurement greater than 120/80. The top number in a blood pressure measurement is your systolic pressure. This is the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart beats. The normal range for systolic pressure is 90 to 120. The bottom number in a blood pressure measurement is you diastolic pressure. This is the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart rests in between beats. The normal range for diastolic pressure is 60 to 80. Hypertension is very common, but should not be taken lightly. If left untreated it can lead to serious complications such as heart attack or stroke.

Causes

Various things can lead to hypertension, including underlying conditions or lifestyle factors. The following are some of the most common causes of high blood pressure or hypertension:

  • Obesity
  • Lack of exercise
  • Cardiovascular disease
    • Heart failure
    • Heart arrhythmias
    • Coronary artery disease
  • Unhealthy diet
    • Excess saturated fat
    • Excess sodium
    • Excess sugar
  • Stress
  • Physical trauma
  • Dysautonomia
    • Hyperadrenergic POTS
  • Lack of sleep
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Alcoholism
  • Aging
  • Family history of hypertension
  • Smoking
  • Sleep apnea
  • Kidney diseases

high blood pressure

Types

Hypertension is classified in two ways: Primary and Secondary. Primary hypertension occurs because of lifestyle factors or genetics. Secondary hypertension occurs due to an underlying condition, such as kidney disease and thyroid disorders.

Symptoms

Patients usually go long periods without knowing they have hypertension. Symptoms don’t typically appear until it has reached a severe level. When hypertension has been left untreated, the following symptoms may appear:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Nosebleeds
  • Shortness of breath
  • Increased heart rate

Diagnosis

hypertension

A sphygmomanometer, or blood pressure cuff, is used to measure a patient’s blood pressure and assess for hypertension.

Diagnosing high blood pressure is very simple. Your doctor will take a look at your family history and lifestyle to see if you have any risk factors for high blood pressure. They will also assess whether you have any underlying conditions that could cause high blood pressure. Your blood pressure should be taken at every doctor’s appointment and if it is consistently increased, it is likely that you have high blood pressure. Your doctor will recommend that you use a sphygmomanometer, or blood pressure monitor, to keep track of your blood pressure at home. This will help pinpoint when your blood pressure is high and potentially identify triggers.

Treatment

Treating high blood pressure depends on the root cause of it. In secondary hypertension, the underlying cause will need to be treated to resolve the high blood pressure. In primary hypertension, lifestyle changes can often resolve high blood pressure. This would include eating a healthier diet that is low in sodium and sugar. A moderate exercise routine should also be incorporated. There are also medications, such as beta blockers, that can be used to lower blood pressure if lifestyle changes do not resolve the issue.

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