High blood pressure is an extremely common medical condition involving the cardiovascular system and heart, affecting approximately one in three American adults. Bergen Medical Associates is a provider of comprehensive medical care with six convenient locations throughout Northern New Jersey. Our experienced, board-certified physicians offer many different specialties to patients, including internal medicine, to diagnose and treat conditions like high blood pressure. Here, we discuss more about high blood pressure and the signs to look out for.
What Is High Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing up against the walls of the arteries, which carry blood from the heart to other parts of the body. In high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, the force of the blood pushing on the arteries is consistently higher than normal and makes the heart work harder to pump blood.
Blood pressure consists of two numbers, systolic and diastolic, and is written with one number over the other. Systolic is the top number and measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats. Diastolic is the bottom number and measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart rests between beats. There are four different categories of blood pressure:
- Normal blood pressure:A normal blood pressure is 120/80 or lower.
- Elevated blood pressure: Elevated blood pressure is when the top number ranges from 120 to 129 and the bottom number is below 80.
- Stage 1 hypertension:Stage 1 hypertension is diagnosed when the top number ranges from 130 to 139 or the bottom number is between 80 and 89.
- Stage 2 hypertension:Stage 2 hypertension occurs when the top number is 140 or higher or the bottom number is 90 or higher.
The higher the blood pressure is, the more dangerous it can be to the body and the higher the risk there is for other health issues, such as heart disease and stroke.
What Are the Symptoms of High Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure is often referred to as a silent killer because it often shows no recognizable signs or symptoms. It develops slowly over time and many people don’t know they have high blood pressure until it’s already impacting their health in other ways. When symptoms do arrive, high blood pressure often is already in the later stages. People with exceedingly high blood pressure may experience symptoms like:
- Chest pains
- Shortness of breath
- Severe headaches
- Nausea or vomiting
- Blurred vision or other vision changes
- Abnormal heart rhythm
Patients with any of these symptoms should seek medical care immediately to get their blood pressure checked and to rule out heart attack, stroke, or other serious health issues. The best way for a person to know their blood pressure is to get it measured at a doctor’s office or measure it themselves with an at-home monitor.
What Are the Causes and Risk Factors of High Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure can be caused by a variety of things, whether it’s unhealthy habits, other medical conditions, or even pregnancy. These risk factors can increase a person’s risk of developing high blood pressure and are broken down into modifiable risk factors and non-modifiable risk factors.
Modifiable Risk Factors
Modifiable risk factors are things that can be changed fairly easily to help someone manage their blood pressure and prevent further health problems. These risk factors that make it more likely to develop high blood pressure include:
- Unhealthy diet or one high in sodium
- Lack of exercise
- High alcohol consumption
- Cigarette smoking
- Being overweight or obese
By taking steps to change these risk factors, people can decrease their likelihood of developing high blood pressure. For already diagnosed patients, reducing their salt intake, increasing exercise, and quitting smoking are usually first-line measures for managing their blood pressure.
Non-Modifiable Risk Factors
Non-modifiable factors are harder or impossible to change and can increase a person’s risk of getting high blood pressure. They include:
- Family medical history (risk is higher if family members have hypertension)
- Age (risk increases with age)
- Race (risk is higher in Black people than it is for other races)
- Existing chronic conditions (risk is higher in people with medical conditions like kidney disease, diabetes, and sleep apnea)
Patients with one or more of these non-modifiable risk factors should be aware of their increased chances of hypertension and regularly measure their blood pressure. However, having certain risk factors doesn’t necessarily mean a person will develop high blood pressure.
Request an Appointment Today
Patients with risk factors or symptoms of hypertension should routinely monitor their blood pressure and contact their doctor with any concerns. Bergen Medical Associates is a trusted provider of high-quality medical care, including internal medicine and prevention services. Contact us today to request an appointment at one of our six locations throughout Northern New Jersey.Leave a reply