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Hypertension: What Is High Blood Pressure?

Hypertension: What Is High Blood Pressure?
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Hypertension

high blood pressure


Hypertension is the official term for high blood pressure. This refers to any blood pressure measurement that is greater than 120 over 80. The top number in blood pressure readings is the systolic pressure, the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart beats. The normal range for systolic pressure is anywhere between 90 and 120. The bottom number in blood pressure readings is your diastolic pressure, the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart is resting in between beats. The normal range for diastolic pressure is anywhere between 60 and 80. Hypertension is a very common medical problem, affecting millions around the world. With that said, it should still be taken seriously, as left untreated it can lead to dangerous complications like stroke or heart attack.

What Causes Hypertension?

There are a multitude of things that can lead to high blood pressure. The following are underlying conditions and lifestyle factors that can cause 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

Types of Hypertension

Hypertension is divided into two main categories.

Primary Hypertension

Primary hypertension is high blood pressure that is caused by lifestyle factors or genetics.

Secondary Hypertension

Secondary hypertension is high blood pressure that is caused by an underlying condition.

Symptoms of Hypertension

Patients typically go years without know they have hypertension because symptoms don’t usually appear until the problem has gotten severe. When high blood pressure becomes severe, the following symptoms may present:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Nosebleeds
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Shortness of breath
  • Increased heart rate

Diagnosing Hypertension

Your primary care physician can easily diagnose hypertension by doing a physical exam and assessing your medical history and symptoms. They will usually look for any risk factors for hypertension, like lifestyle factors as underlying conditions as well as family history. Your blood pressure should be measured at every doctor’s appointment, and if it is consistently high, it is likely you have hypertension. Your doctor may also have you routinely measure your blood pressure at home with a sphygmomanometer to see if it is consistently high.

Treating Hypertension

Effectively treating high blood pressure depends on what is causing it. If it is an underlying condition causing the hypertension, treating the underlying condition may resolve the high blood pressure. If lifestyle factors are causing the hypertension, changing these habits can often resolve the issue. In some cases, medications like beta blockers are prescribed to lower blood pressure.

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