High blood pressure is a condition where the pressure blood exerts on the arteries is higher than is healthy. Over time, it can cause health problems that can be serious, even life threatening. It is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, cardiomyopathy, stroke and kidney disease. Most people have no signs or symptoms until high blood pressure reaches a severe stage, a ‘silent killer.’
Blood pressure is measured with two numbers. The first number (systolic) is the pressure exerted on your arteries when your blood is pumping. The second, lower number (diastolic) is the pressure exerted on your arteries when your heart rests between beats. Normal blood pressure for an adult is around 120/70. Someone who has blood pressure measured over 140/90 – for either number – on two occasions is considered to have high blood pressure.
Who is at risk?
In America, 1 in 3 adults have high blood pressure; that’s 80 million people! Up to age 45 more men than women have it. After age 45 women start to have the same chance, progressing to higher likelihood than men by age 65.
Those at higher risk are…
- People with a family history
- African Americans
- Overweight or obese people
- People who aren’t physically active
- People who consume too much sodium (salt)
- People who drink too much alcohol
- People with diabetes, gout or kidney disease
- Women who take birth control pills may be at higher risk
What causes high blood pressure?
In an overwhelming majority of cases, the cause is unknown. This kind of high blood pressure is called Essential Hypertension. Sometimes it can be caused by underlying conditions, such as obstructive sleep apnea, chronic kidney disease and adrenal or thyroid disorders. This type is called Secondary Hypertension.
How can high blood pressure be prevented or treated?
For many people, the best treatment is a lifestyle change. Exercising more, eating a healthy diet with less salt, quitting smoking and maintaining a healthy weight are all ways to lower your blood pressure. Sometimes, however, lifestyle changes are not enough and medication is required.
What should I do?
If you are concerned about high blood pressure, have your blood pressure checked and discuss it with your provider. Send us a message through the patient portal, or call us at 541-757-2400.