High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) 2018-01-11T22:20:14+00:00

Overview

When your heart beats, it pushes blood through your arteries. This creates pressure against the artery walls. If this pressure is too high, you have high blood pressure. It’s a common disease. But if you don’t manage it properly, it can cause health problems.

Understanding High Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is measured with two numbers written like a fraction. The top number is the pressure in your arteries when your heart is pushing out blood. The bottom number is the pressure between beats, when your heart is resting. When the top number reaches 120, or the bottom number reaches 80, you are said to have “prehypertension.” You have high blood pressure when the top number reaches 140 or the bottom number reaches 90. The higher the pressure, the greater your risk for health problems.

Causes

We don’t completely understand the causes of high blood pressure. For many people, it develops slowly over time and it may not have an obvious cause. But in some cases its causes are known. It can develop because of problems with your kidneys, adrenal glands or thyroid. It can be linked to problems with your artery walls. It can be caused by certain medications, and by alcohol and drug abuse.

Risk Factors

You have a higher risk for this disease if you are overweight. Your risk is higher if you eat a diet high in salt, if you drink a lot of alcohol or if you don’t
exercise enough. Your risk gets higher as you get older. This disease is more common in men, and in black people. And, you have a higher risk if you have a family history of this disease.

Symptoms and Complications

You can have high blood pressure for a long time and not realize it. For most people it doesn’t cause any obvious symptoms until it becomes severe. If your high blood pressure is not managed properly, it can lead to severe complications. It can cause heart attack, stroke, aneurysm, kidney problems and vision loss.

Treatment

Treatment options may include a healthier lifestyle and medications. Your healthcare provider can create a care plan that is right for you.

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