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High Blood Pressure
Blood pressure, measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg), is normally 120/80 mm Hg or lower. Hypertension occurs in two stages—in stage 1, the top number can range from 130 to 139 and the bottom number will run from 80 to 89; and in stage 2, the top number is 140 or higher and the bottom number is 90 or higher. Blood pressure that is higher than 180/120 mm Hg is considered a hypertensive emergency and requires immediate medical help.
You may not notice any hypertension symptoms, even when your blood pressure is very high. In severe cases, high blood pressure can cause headaches, shortness of breath, and nosebleeds.
High Blood Pressure Treatment
High blood pressure treatment will begin with first identifying the cause, if any. We have a range of diagnostic tests that we can use to help us diagnose any potential underlying conditions. These tests may include lab work, electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG), and echocardiogram. Treating high blood pressure begins with making healthy lifestyle changes. This can include:
- A healthy diet
- Reducing saturated fat
- Limiting alcohol
- Regular exercise
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Stress reduction
If heart-healthy habits aren’t enough to bring your blood pressure down to a normal level, we may recommend additional treatments, such as medications. These may include:
- ACE inhibitors
- Calcium channel blockers
Sometimes, high blood pressure can be resistant to treatment. In these cases, we will work with you to develop a targeted plan to help lower your numbers.
Recovering from hypertension will involve taking the appropriate steps to manage it. Lifestyle modifications can make a big difference in lowering your blood pressure.
With the right combination of heart-healthy lifestyle choices and medication, many people with hypertension are able to see significant drops in their blood pressure.
More on High Blood Pressure
What Causes High Blood Pressure?
Identifying the cause of high blood pressure begins with identifying which type you have. There are two types:
- Primary hypertension: This type tends to develop gradually over years and has no identifiable cause. You will likely not experience any hypertension symptoms.
- Secondary hypertension: When there is an underlying cause of high blood pressure, it will often occur suddenly. Possible causes include congenital heart defects, kidney disease, thyroid problems, and adrenal gland tumors.
Certain conditions, such as diabetes, sleep apnea, and obesity, can increase your risk of developing high blood pressure. Some people may also develop hypertension during pregnancy.
More on Treatments for High Blood Pressure
- A healthy diet: The DASH eating plan is specifically designed to help manage blood pressure. The diet encourages eating foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean meat sources, nuts, seeds, and grains, while limiting consumption of red meat, sodium, sugars, and sugar-sweetened beverages.
- Reducing saturated fat: Consuming high levels of saturated fat can lead to atherosclerosis, or plaque buildup in the arteries.
- Limiting alcohol: Keep your alcohol intake to no more than two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women.
- Regular exercise: Exercise lowers blood pressure by reducing blood vessel stiffness so blood can more easily flow. Walking as little as 10 minutes a day, three days a week can help.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight or obese increases your risk of developing high blood pressure. Your blood pressure rises as your body weight increases.
- Stress reduction: Your body produces a surge of hormones when you're in a stressful situation. These hormones temporarily increase your blood pressure by causing your heart to beat faster and your blood vessels to narrow.
- Diuretics, which help your kidneys remove sodium and water from your body.
- ACE inhibitors, which promote blood flow by relaxing your blood vessels.
- Calcium channel blockers, which relax the muscles around your blood vessels for better blood flow.