What is High Blood Pressure?

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a life-threatening condition that often doesn’t produce obvious symptoms. While almost 50% of U.S. adults have high blood pressure, many individuals don’t know they’re affected. 

People who have a higher than average risk of high blood pressure shouldn’t wait until symptoms occur to address their disease. With or without symptoms, high blood pressure increases your risk of developing life-threatening conditions like heart disease and stroke. Understanding high blood pressure and whether you’re affected can be a life-saving decision.

The high blood pressure specialists at Macomb Medical Clinic in Sterling Heights, Michigan, can help you identify your risk of high blood pressure and learn to manage the condition if you’re affected. Through patient education, medication, and lifestyle modifications, the team at Macomb Medical Clinic can help you understand how high blood pressure affects your body and how you can manage it for better health.

Understanding high blood pressure

High blood pressure is a condition that uses more intense force, or pressure, than normal to push blood through your arteries. Allowing your blood pressure to remain at a higher than normal rate can damage your blood vessels by making them less elastic. This reduces the flow of oxygen and blood to your heart, which can lead to heart disease. 

A diagnosis of high blood pressure is based on the measurement of your blood pressure. The reading includes two numbers: 

Definition of high blood pressure readings

Your blood pressure reading is recorded as your systolic pressure/your diastolic blood pressure. The American Heart Association classifies five blood pressure ranges and advises appropriate action at each stage:

Normal Stage: Within 90/60 mm Hg and 120/80 mm Hg

Readings in this range do not require any action.

Elevated Stage: 120-129 systolic and lower than 80 mm Hg diastolic

You’re likely to develop high blood pressure if you don’t make lifestyle and diet modifications.

Hypertension Stage 1: 130-139 systolic or 80-89 mm Hg diastolic

Hypertension Stage 2: 140/90 mm Hg or higher

At these ranges, you may have to take blood pressure medication in addition to making lifestyle modifications, depending on your risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD), a condition that can result in a heart attack or stroke.

Hypertensive Crisis: a sudden blood pressure jump to 180/120 mm Hg and the same reading five minutes later

Having blood pressure in the range of 180/120 mm Hg with chest pains, shortness of breath, back pain, difficulty speaking, numbness/weakness, or vision changes, may be signs of a hypertensive emergency that requires immediate treatment. 

Your risk of high blood pressure

Several factors determine your risk of developing high blood pressure. The following risk factors involve personal characteristics that you can’t change. 

Gender

Among adults under age 65, men experience high blood pressure more often than women. However, after age 65, the risk for women is higher than for men. 

Age

You have a higher risk of high blood pressure as you get older. Over time, your blood vessels lose their elasticity, which can make you vulnerable to increased blood pressure. 

Race

If you’re African-American, you have a higher risk of developing high blood pressure more often than people of other races. 

Reducing your risk

While high blood pressure can lead to serious life-threatening conditions, it’s possible to avoid the disease or reverse your symptoms if you’ve been diagnosed with it. 

The following strategies can change modifiable risk factors like being overweight, alcohol consumption, and smoking, which can contribute to the likelihood of developing high blood pressure:

Regular medical examinations and blood pressure monitoring can help assure you get an early diagnosis and begin treatment before the condition can cause life-threatening complications. 

Learn more about your risk for high blood pressure and what you can do to stay healthy. Schedule a consultation with our team by calling our office today.

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