By Elisa Clark
April 4, 2018
GREENSBORO – High blood pressure (hypertension) is defined as high pressure (tension) in the arteries, which are the vessels that carry blood from the heart to the rest of the body.
Blood pressure readings are given as two numbers: The systolic blood pressure, which is the the top number, equals the pressure in the arteries as the heart pumps blood. The diastolic pressure, which is the bottom number, is the pressure in the arteries as the heart relaxes. A normal blood pressure reading is below 120/80.
There are many causes that can lead to high blood pressure. Not all causes are the same for every person.
- High salt intake or salt sensitivity: This occurs in certain populations such as the elderly, African Americans, people who are obese, or people with kidney problems.
- People who have one or two parents or family members with high blood pressure have about twice as high chances as the general population.
- A particular abnormality of the arteries, which results in an increased resistance (stiffness or lack of elasticity) in the tiny arteries: This increased peripheral arteriolar stiffness develops in individuals who are also obese, do not exercise, have high salt intake, and are older.
High blood pressure is a largely symptomless “silent killer.” If you ignore your blood pressure because you think a certain symptom or sign will alert you to the problem, you are taking a dangerous chance with your life. There could be some leading causes to your blood pressure rising that you should always take into consideration.
- About 75 million American adults have high blood pressure—that’s 1 in every 3 adults.
- Only about half of people with high blood pressure have their condition under control.
- High blood pressure was a primary or contributing cause of death for more than 410,000 Americans in 2014—that’s more than 1,100 deaths each day.
- High blood pressure costs the nation $48.6 billion each year. This total includes the cost of health care services, medications to treat high blood pressure, and missed days of work.
Blood Pressure Levels
|systolic: less than 120 mmHg
diastolic: less than 80mmHg
At risk (prehypertension)
|systolic: 120–139 mmHg
diastolic: 80–89 mmHg
|systolic: 140 mmHg or higher
diastolic: 90 mmHg or higher
If you have high blood pressure, there are steps that you can take to help yourself. You can make lifestyle modifications, you can be put on medications (your doctor will work with you to find the right one), and changes in diet.
To make an official diagnosis of high blood pressure, you will need to see your doctor. If you feel that you do have high blood pressure, you should go see your doctor as soon as possible to get it under control.