• 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 (the top number) equals the arteries’ pressure as the heart contracts.
○ The diastolic pressure (the bottom number) is the pressure in the arteries as the heart relaxes.
• Normal blood pressure is below 120/80.
• In 2017, the American College of Cardiology released new guidelines for high blood pressure.
○ Blood pressure between 120/80 and 129/80 is elevated blood pressure, and 130/80 or above is considered high.
• The American Academy of Cardiology defines blood pressure ranges as:
○ Hypertension stage 1 is 130-139 or 80-89 mm Hg, and hypertension stage 2 is 140 or higher, or 90 mm Hg or higher.
• Complications of high blood pressure include heart disease, kidney (renal) disease, hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis or arteriosclerosis), eye damage, and stroke (brain damage).
• Hypertension is a significant public health problem. With the new guidelines for defining high blood pressure, The American Heart Association estimates high blood pressure affects nearly half of all adults (46%) in the United States.
Other dietary considerations
It is beneficial to add potassium to the diet. Studies show that people who consume more potassium have lower blood pressures. Good sources of potassium include:
• spinach and
Along with lowering salt in the diet, a balanced eating plan reduces cholesterol intake, and fatty foods are recommended. The TLC Diet (Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes) often is recommended to lower blood cholesterol.
Blood pressure readings can vary in a single person throughout the day, depending on the situation. Factors such as stress, anxiety, foods are eaten (caffeine or salt intake), and smoking can cause pressure.
The American Heart Association defines normal blood pressure as less than 120/80. Elevated blood pressure ranges between 120/80 and 129/80, and high blood pressure is 130/80 and higher. In pregnancy, normal blood pressure should be below 120/80.
Suppose your blood pressure reaches into the high range. In that case, you should see your doctor about lifestyle changes and possibly medication, especially if you have other risk factors, such as diabetes or heart disease.
High blood pressure (for example, 180/110 or higher) may indicate an emergency. If this high blood pressure is associated with chest pain, shortness of breath, headache, dizziness, or back or abdominal pain, seek medical care immediately.
If your blood pressure is lower than about 100/60, you may have low blood pressure, depending on the associated symptoms. If you are unsure, check with your doctor.
High blood pressure may not have any symptoms, so hypertension has been labeled “the silent killer.” Longstanding high blood pressure can lead to multiple complications, including heart attack, kidney disease, or stroke.
Some people experience symptoms with high blood pressure. These symptoms include:
• Shortness of breath
• Blurred vision
• The feeling of pulsations in the neck or head
The causes of hypertension are multifactorial, meaning there are several factors whose combined effects produce hypertension.
• High salt intake or salt sensitivity: This occurs in specific populations such as the elderly, African Americans, people who are obese, or people with kidney (renal) problems.
• Genetic predisposition to high blood pressure: People with 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 a high salt intake, and are older.
Blood pressure is measured by a blood pressure cuff (sphygmomanometer). The blood pressure cuff consists of an air pump, a pressure gauge, and a rubber cuff. The instrument measures the blood pressure in units called millimeters of mercury (mm Hg).
The cuff is placed around the upper arm and inflated with an air pump to a pressure that blocks blood flow in the main artery that travels through the arm. The arm is held at the side of the body at the heart level, and the pressure of the cuff is gradually released. As the pressure decreases, a health practitioner listens with a stethoscope over the artery at the elbow’s front. An electronic machine senses the pulsation. The pressure at which the practitioner (or device) first hears a pulse from the artery is the systolic pressure (the top number). As the cuff pressure decreases further, the pressure at which the pulsation finally stops is the diastolic pressure (the bottom number).
To make an official diagnosis of high blood pressure, you will need to see your doctor. Your blood pressure will often be checked on at least two different visits at different times of the day. Your doctor may ask you to keep a blood pressure log for a short time to see your overall blood pressure trends. Suppose your blood pressure is consistently over 134/80. In that case, your doctor will work with you to determine the best regimen for treating your high blood pressure.
Many different factors cause blood pressure, so there are many other treatments. The goal of treating high blood pressure is to keep the blood pressure below 134/80.
Treatments for high blood pressure include:
• Lifestyle modifications:
○ Quit smoking
○ Lose weight if you are overweight
○ Avoid alcohol
○ Eat a low-sodium, low-fat diet like the DASH diet.
• Medications: There are many different categories of blood pressure medications. Your doctor will work with you to find the right one. The main types include:
○ Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
○ Angiotensin II Receptor (ARB) blockers
○ Calcium channel blockers
○ Diuretics (water pills)
• Treatment of underlying conditions that cause high blood pressure, such as:
○ Renal artery stenosis
○ Congestive heart failure
By reading this website, you acknowledge that you are responsible for your own health decisions. The information throughout this medical website is not intended to be taken as medical advice. The information provided is intended for general information regarding our cardiovascular clinic in Brooklyn, New York. If you experience chest pain, dizziness, nausea, or unusual shortness of breath, please stop and seek medical attention.
If you are interested in finding out more, please contact our Multi-Specialty Facility. Avoid worrisome self-diagnosis; the best cardiology doctors will properly diagnose your problem and refer you to a specialist if necessary. No information on this site should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease or condition.