Skye likes writing about mental health, nutrition, and wellness. She is passionate about sharing information that will educate, and positively affect people's lives.
Po-Chang Hsu, M.D.
Dr. Hsu received his medical degree from Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts, and holds a Master’s of Science degree from both Harvard University and Tufts University. Outside of the medical profession, Dr. Hsu loves to write, learn new languages, and travel.
February 4, 2021
High blood pressure is almost always caused by one of three factors:
Hearing that you have high blood pressure often comes with a lot of questions. What is it? What causes it? Is my health at risk?
In short, high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a condition where your blood is pumping with excessive force against your arteries.
“Blood pressure is the pressure of blood pushing against the walls of your arteries. Arteries carry blood from your heart to other parts of your body,” according to the CDC. If your heart has to work harder and pump out more blood to your body, it can result in high blood pressure.
Causes of high blood pressure will vary from one person to another, but there are some common causes. Here are some of the most common causes of high blood pressure today:
There are two different types of hypertension that you may be diagnosed with: primary and secondary.
Primary Hypertension: If your doctor doesn’t find a specific cause for your high blood pressure, they’ll likely list it as primary. High blood pressure can gradually happen, with no other triggers, for several years, and falls under this category.
Secondary Hypertension: This type of hypertension is when your primary care physician finds an underlying cause of your high blood pressure. Instead of gradually getting worse over the years, it tends to happen suddenly. Often, people experiencing secondary hypertension see higher numbers in measuring blood pressure than those with primary hypertension.
High blood pressure can affect practically anyone. Studies have shown that men tend to have high blood pressure more often than women. One exception is when women are going through menopause.
Menopause can cause your blood pressure to increase and eventually reach a state of hypertension. Women are also more likely to go to the doctor, giving them more chances to spot it early and get it under control.
Around 45%, or 108 million people, in the United States have hypertension. High blood pressure is most commonly found in black adults, followed by non-Hispanic white adults, Asian adults, and Hispanic adults.
Most of the time, when you go to the doctor, they’ll check your blood pressure, along with your heart rate. When they’re taking your blood pressure, you’ll get two numbers that look like a fraction.
The top one is called the systolic, and it correlates with the force your heart exerts any time it beats. The bottom number is called diastolic and is used to measure your heart’s force on your arteries’ walls between beats.
The ranges are as follows.
Normal: Less than 120 over 80 (120/80)
Elevated: 120-129/less than 80 (125/73)
Hypertension Stage 1: 130-139/80-89 (139/87)
Hypertension Stage 2: above 140 and above 90 (142/100)
Hypertension Crisis: above 180 and higher than 120 (185/123)
Like many other physical diseases and illnesses, you can have hypertension for years without knowing it. There may not be any signs at first, but the undiagnosed condition can still cause damage to your blood vessels.
It’s important to know the symptoms to get the condition under control while you can.
Undiagnosed high blood pressure can lead to more severe problems like:
Here are a few of the symptoms those with exceedingly high blood pressure may experience.
Hypertension is a serious medical condition that can lead to other complications if left untreated. Some of the more common issues that people with uncontrolled high blood pressure may face are:
If your arteries are narrowed or blocked, it creates a limited supply of blood that can get to the brain. This eventually can lead to something called vascular dementia. This can also be caused by a stroke that temporarily interrupts the blood flow to the brain.
When you have hypertension, your heart has to work a lot harder to get the blood flowing to other areas of your body. When your heart has to do this, it can cause the walls of one of the chambers of your heart to thicken. Thick walls can make it even harder for your heart to pump out blood, eventually leading to heart failure.
Blood vessels can become enlarged and weaker with increased blood pressure. When this happens, an aneurysm can occur. Aneurysms become life-threatening if the vessels rupture at any point.
One of the most apparent complications of hypertension is that it can lead to a heart attack. When the arteries become thick and hard, it can cause a clot, leading to a sudden heart attack or stroke.
Getting diagnosed with high blood pressure can be scary. It’s normal to feel fear regarding the condition, but there are things you can do to get it under control. Unlike many other medical conditions, you can be treated for high blood pressure after being diagnosed with it.
You can make the following lifestyle changes that can dramatically alter your blood pressure.
Using these methods along with medication can eventually rid you of the diagnosis.
Your doctor may want to prescribe you medication that helps to regulate your blood pressure and brings it down to healthy levels.
Chatting with a doctor online is a convenient, safe, and affordable way to get a high blood pressure diagnosis and any prescriptions you need to alleviate your high blood pressure to return to a healthy state.
EverydayDr is a proud partner of award-winning telehealth startup PlushCare. PlushCare connects hundreds of thousands of patients with world-class doctors, many of which are experts in diagnosing and treating hypertension.
Click here to make an appointment with an online doctor with PlushCare.
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