High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a condition in which the force of a person’s blood against their arterial walls is high enough over an extended period of time to potentially cause health issues. Blood pressure is measured in two numbers, a systolic and diastolic number. If either of these readings is too high, a person is deemed to have high blood pressure.
Uncontrolled high blood pressure can cause serious cardiovascular issues, including heart attacks, strokes, aneurysms, heart failure, and other problems. In its early stages, however, high blood pressure may not show any symptoms -- even though it may be damaging the heart, veins, and arteries.
Doctors diagnose high blood pressure based on blood pressure readings, which are both quick and easy to take. Getting a blood pressure reading takes only a few minutes and can be done at home (provided a patient has the proper equipment), at a pharmacy, or in a doctor’s office. Sometimes, doctors want multiple readings before they officially diagnose someone with high blood pressure, to ensure that the reading wasn’t an anomaly. Generally, a systolic blood pressure of 120 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and a diastolic pressure of 80 mm Hg is considered normal and healthy. Patients are diagnosed with:
High blood pressure is typically treated with a combination of lifestyle changes and medication. The following lifestyle changes can help reduce blood pressure:
Medications that are used include thiazide diuretics, beta blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs), calcium channel blockers, and others.