High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment

High blood pressure (also referred to as HBP, or hypertension) is when your blood pressure, the force of blood flowing through your blood vessels, is consistently too high. You probably have high blood pressure (hypertension) if your blood pressure readings are consistently 140 over 90, or higher, over a number of weeks. You may also have high blood pressure if just one of the numbers is higher than it should be over a number of weeks

More than 80 million Americans (33%) have high blood pressure, and as many as 16 million of them do not even know they have the condition. If left untreated, high blood pressure greatly increases your risk for heart attack and stroke. Hypertension is projected to increase by about 8 percent between 2013 and 2030.

There are two main types of high blood pressure:

  • Primary, or essential, high blood pressure is the most common type of high blood pressure. For most people who get this kind of blood pressure, it develops over time as you get older.
  • Secondary high blood pressure is caused by another medical condition or use of certain medicines. It usually gets better after you treat the cause or stop taking the medicines that are causing it.

Common facts

  • Blood pressure tends to rise with age.
  • High blood pressure is more common in African American adults.
  • People who are overweight or have obesity are more likely to develop prehypertension or high blood pressure.
  • Before age 55, men are more likely than women to develop high blood pressure. After age 55, women are more likely than men to develop it.


High blood pressure usually has no symptoms. So the only way to find out if you have high blood pressure is to get regular blood pressure checks from your health care provider

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How Does High Blood Pressure Affect Your Body?

If you have high blood pressure, this higher pressure puts extra strain on your heart and blood vessels. Over time, this extra strain increases your risk of a heart attack or stroke. High blood pressure can also cause heart and kidney disease and is closely linked to some forms of dementia.

What Are The Causes of High Blood Pressure?

The causes of hypertension are multifactorial, meaning there are several factors whose combined effects produce hypertension. These include:

  • 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 (renal) problems.
  • Genetic predisposition to high blood pressure – People who have one or two parents with hypertension have high blood pressure incidence about twice as high 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 (arterioles) – This increased peripheral arteriolar stiffness develops in individuals who are also obese, do not exercise, have high salt intake, and are older.
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What Are The Risk Factors of High Blood Pressure?

Common risk factors include:

  • Family history – If your parents or other close blood relatives have high blood pressure, there’s an increased chance that you’ll get it, too.
  • Age – The older you are, the more likely you are to get high blood pressure. As we age, our blood vessels gradually lose some of their elastic quality, which can contribute to increased blood pressure. However, children can also develop high blood pressure. Learn more about children and high blood pressure.
  • Gender – Until age 64, men are more likely to get high blood pressure than women are. At 65 and older, women are more likely to get high blood pressure. Learn more about women and high blood pressure.
  • Race – African-Americans tend to develop high blood pressure more often than people of any other racial background in the United States. It also tends to be more severe in African Americans, and some medications are less effective in treating HBP in blacks. Learn more about African-Americans and high blood pressure.
  • Chronic kidney disease (CKD) HBP may occur as a result of kidney disease. And, having HBP may also cause further kidney damage.
  • Lack of physical activity – Not getting enough physical activity as part of your lifestyle increases your risk of getting a high blood pressure. Physical activity is great for your heart and circulatory system in general, and blood pressure is no exception. Learn more about getting regular physical activity.
  • An unhealthy diet, especially one high in sodium – Good nutrition from a variety of sources is critical for your health. A diet that is too high in salt consumption, as well as calories, saturated and trans fat and sugar, carries an additional risk of high blood pressure. On the other hand, making healthy food choices can actually help lower blood pressure. Learn more about improving your diet.
  • Being overweight or obese – Carrying too much weight puts an extra strain on your heart and circulatory system that can cause serious health problems. It also increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Learn more about managing your weight.
  • Drinking too much alcohol – Regular, heavy use of alcohol can cause many health problems, including heart failure, stroke and an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia). It can cause your blood pressure to increase dramatically and can also increase your risk of cancer, obesity, alcoholism, suicide, and accidents. Learn more about alcohol, high blood pressure and the importance of moderation.
  • Sleep apnea – Obstructive sleep apnea may increase the risk of developing HBP and is common in people with resistant hypertension.
  • High cholesterol – More than half of people with HBP also have high cholesterol.
  • Diabetes – Most people with diabetes also develop HBP.
  • Smoking and tobacco use – Using tobacco can cause your blood pressure to temporarily increase and can contribute to damaged arteries. Secondhand smoke, exposure to other people’s smoke, also increases the risk of heart disease for nonsmokers. Learn more about quitting smoking.
  • Stress – Stress is not necessarily a bad thing in and of itself. But too much stress may contribute to increased blood pressure. Also, too much stress can encourage behaviors that increase blood pressure, such as poor diet, physical inactivity, and using tobacco or drinking alcohol more than usual. Socioeconomic status and psychosocial stress can affect access to basic living necessities, medication, healthcare providers, and the ability to adopt healthy lifestyle changes.
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What Are The Symptoms of High Blood Pressure?

High blood pressure may not have any symptoms and so hypertension has been labeled “the silent killer.” However, some people do experience symptoms with their high blood pressure. These symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Blurred vision
  • Feeling of pulsations in the neck or head
  • Nausea
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How Is High Blood Pressure Diagnosed?

Your provider will use a gauge, a stethoscope or electronic sensor, and a blood pressure cuff. For most adults, blood pressure readings will be in one of four categories:

  • Normal blood pressure – Your systolic pressure is less than 120 AND your diastolic pressure is less than 80
  • Prehypertension – Your systolic pressure is between 120-139 OR your diastolic pressure is between 80-89
  • Stage 1 high blood pressure – Your systolic pressure is between 140-159 OR your diastolic pressure is between 90-99
  • Stage 2 high blood pressure – Your systolic pressure is 160 or higher OR your diastolic pressure is 100 or higher
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How To Prevent & Control High Blood Pressure?

To prevent yourself from hypertension, follow these tips:

  • Eating a healthy diet – To help manage your blood pressure, you should limit the amount of sodium (salt) that you eat, and increase the amount of potassium in your diet. It is also important to eat foods that are lower in fat, as well as plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. The DASH diet is an example of an eating plan that can help you to lower your blood pressure.
  • Getting regular exercise – Exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower your blood pressure. You should try to get moderate-intensity aerobic exercise at least 2 and a half hours per week, or vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise for 1 hour and 15 minutes per week. Aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, is an exercise in which your heart beats harder and you use more oxygen than usual.
  • Being at a healthy weight – Being overweight or having obesity increases your risk for high blood pressure. Maintaining a healthy weight can help you control high blood pressure and reduce your risk for other health problems.
  • Limiting alcohol – Drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure. It also adds extra calories, which may cause weight gain. Men should have no more than two drinks per day, and women only one.
  • Not smoking – Cigarette smoking raises your blood pressure and puts you at higher risk for heart attack and stroke. If you do not smoke, do not start. If you do smoke, talk to your health care provider for help in finding the best way for you to quit.
  • Managing stress – Learning how to relax and manage stress can improve your emotional and physical health and lower high blood pressure. Stress management techniques include exercising, listening to music, focusing on something calm or peaceful, and meditating.

Treatment of High Blood Pressure – Allopathic Treatment

Common drugs used for hypertension are:

  • ACE inhibitors – Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors reduce blood pressure by relaxing your blood vessels. Common examples are enalapril, lisinopril, perindopril, and ramipril.
  • Angiotensin – 2 receptor blockers (ARBs) – ARBs work in a similar way to ACE inhibitors. They’re often recommended if ACE inhibitors cause troublesome side effects. Common examples are candesartan, irbesartan, losartan, valsartan, and olmesartan.
  • Calcium channel blockers – Calcium channel blockers reduce blood pressure by widening your blood vessels. Common examples are amlodipine, felodipine, and nifedipine. Other medicines such as diltiazem and verapamil are also available.
  • Diuretics – Sometimes known as water pills, diuretics work by flushing excess water and salt from the body through urine. Common examples are indapamide and bendroflumethiazide.
  • Beta-blockers – Beta-blockers can reduce blood pressure by making your heart beat more slowly and with less force. They used to be a popular treatment for high blood pressure, but now only tend to be used when other treatments haven’t worked. This is because beta-blockers are considered less effective than other blood pressure medications. Common examples are atenolol and bisoprolol.

Treatment of High Blood Pressure – Homeopathic Treatment

Following drugs are used for treating hypertension:

  • Baryta Carbonicum
  • Baryta Muriaticum
  • Adrenalinum
  • Glonoinum
  • Serum Aguilar Ichthyotoxin
  • Thyroidinum
  • Nux vomica
  • Crataegus
  • Passiflora incarnata
  • Picric Acidum
  • Phosphoricum Acidum
  • Ignatia  Seeds from St Ignatius’ bean tree
  • Arnica montana
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High Blood Pressure – Lifestyle Tips

Lifestyle modifications for high blood pressure patients:

  • Quit smoking
  • Lose weight if you are overweight
  • Exercise
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Eat a low-sodium, low-fat diet like the DASH diet.

What Are The Recommended Exercises For Person With High Blood Pressure?

Cardiovascular activities including walking, jogging, biking, or swimming for 30 to 45 minutes per day can help lower blood pressure.

High Blood Pressure & Pregnancy – Things to Know

Different types of hypertension may develop during pregnancy:

  • Gestational hypertension – Women with gestational hypertension have high blood pressure that develops after 20 weeks of pregnancy. There is no excess protein in the urine or other signs of organ damage. Some women with gestational hypertension eventually develop preeclampsia.
  • Chronic hypertension – Chronic hypertension is high blood pressure that was present before pregnancy or that occurs before 20 weeks of pregnancy. But because high blood pressure usually doesn’t have symptoms, it might be hard to determine when it began.
  • Chronic hypertension with superimposed preeclampsia – This condition occurs in women with chronic hypertension before pregnancy who develop worsening high blood pressure and protein in the urine or other blood pressure-related complications during pregnancy.
  • Preeclampsia – Preeclampsia occurs when hypertension develops after 20 weeks of pregnancy and is associated with signs of damage to other organ systems, including the kidneys, liver, blood or brain. Untreated preeclampsia can lead to serious — even fatal — complications for mother and baby, including the development of seizures (eclampsia).

Common Complications Related to High Blood Pressure

Complications of high blood pressure include heart disease, kidney (renal) disease, hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis or arteriosclerosis), eye damage, and stroke (brain damage).

Other FAQs About High Blood Pressure

Q. What is the danger zone of high blood pressure?

A. A hypertensive crisis is a severe increase in blood pressure that can lead to a stroke. Extremely high blood pressure — a top number (systolic pressure) of 180 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or higher or a bottom number (diastolic pressure) of 120 mm Hg or higher — can damage blood vessels.

Q. Is coffee bad for high blood pressure?

A. Caffeine can cause a short, but dramatic increase in your blood pressure, even if you don’t have high blood pressure. It’s unclear what causes this spike in blood pressure. Some researchers believe that caffeine could block a hormone that helps keep your arteries widened.

Q. Is green tea good for high blood pressure?

A. This Kind of Tea Lowers Blood Pressure Naturally. But long-term tea intake did have a significant impact. After 12 weeks of drinking tea, blood pressure was lower by 2.6 mmHg systolic and 2.2 mmHg diastolic. Green tea had the most significant results, while black tea performed the next best.

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