Your Guide to Hypertension

What is Hypertension?


Hypertension is another term for high blood pressure. Blood pressure is the force of the blood pushing up against your blood vessels, and it is particularly important to understand why increased pressure wreaks havoc over time in your body. Blood pressure is a normal occurrence in the body and is necessary to push the blood throughout thousands of miles of blood vessels. Problems occur when the pressures are consistently too high or too low over extended periods. The measurement of blood pressure consists of two numbers which are diastolic and systolic pressures. When one or both numbers are elevated, the individual is prehypertensive or hypertensive depending on the numbers in relationship to normal values.


What is the Normal Range for Blood Pressure?


American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association updated their guidance in 2017. Certain healthcare providers follow the 2003 guidelines established by the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, andTreatment of High Blood Pressure.

2003 Guidelines (Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure) 2017 Guidelines (American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association)
Systolic-Less than 120 mm Hg
Diastolic-Less than 80 mm Hg
Systolic-Less than 120
Diastolic-Less than 80
Prehypertension or at risk:
Systolic-120-139 mm Hg
Diastolic 80-89 mm Hg
Systolic: 120–129 mm Hg
Diastolic: less than 80 mm Hg
Systolic-140 or higher mm Hg
Diastolic-90 or higher mm Hg
Systolic: 130 mm Hg or higher
Diastolic: 80 mm Hg or higher

What do the Numbers Mean?


Your heart beats and your heart rests. The two numbers of a blood pressure reading represent the pressure in the arteries (remember only arteries have pressure)when the heart beats and your heart rests.

  • The systolic number (top) measures the pressure in the arteries when your heart beats
  • The diastolic number (bottom) measures the pressure in your arteries between heartbeats


When your systolic pressure elevates above normal, it means that extra force is exerted with each heartbeat. When your diastolic pressure elevates above normal, that means that the blood vessels never get relief from the pressure.


Think about any situation where the pressure never eases. That is the definition of stress, and high blood pressure creates lots of stress in your entire body.


Fast Facts About High Blood Pressure


  •  ½ of Americans have high blood pressure
  • A study of UAE citizens in 2017 revealed that HBP rates have doubled in six years
  • Sometimes called the“silent killer”
  • Frequently there are no symptoms
  • The most accurate way to tell if you have high blood pressure is to have accurate and routine measurements taken by your healthcare professional
  • Blood pressure rises and falls throughout the day
  • Certain individuals experience a labile and falsely elevated readings at the doctor’s office due to anxiety which is called white coat syndrome


Why Should You Care About High Blood Pressure?


First, remember it is called the silent killer. You may not have symptoms but if your blood pressure is high enough, you will have damage. People will high blood pressures are more at risk to have heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes. 


High blood pressure exerts exhausting pressure against delicate tissues such as capillaries in the kidneys and eyes. Delicate tissues cannot manage the stress and can rupture and cause permanent damage. As individuals age, body tissues age as well and are not as likely to withstand the increased pressures. Fragile blood vessels in the brain can rupture and cause stroke symptoms.


 How Can I Tell if I Have High Blood Pressure?


Sometimes you cannot tell. High blood pressure is called the “silent killer” for good reasons. Sometimes the best way and only way to tell is to have your blood pressure assessed and to keep a log. If there is a concern, it is important to keep a log of your pressures. You can purchase an automated blood pressure cuff for at-home use and often there are public cuffs at pharmacies for customer use. 


It is important for you not to diagnose yourself as either having high blood pressure or dismissing the possibility of having blood pressure at all. Many people still hold on to telltale symptoms of old which are headaches and nosebleeds. These are symptoms for some individuals but not all, but the thought to hold on to is that high blood pressure often has NO symptoms while creating damage to your blood vessels and organs. 



What Can I do To Prevent High Blood Pressure?


Sometimes high pressure is hereditary and there is not much to do except for you to follow treatment recommendations. Sometimes the cause of hypertension is a primary diagnosis such as kidney disease. There are physical risk factors that impact whether you will develop high blood pressure. These risk factors are physical or familial risk factors, and you have little control over them having them.Examples include the following.


  • A close family history of high blood pressure increases your chances of getting it
  • Your age is a factor.Blood vessels age too and become less elastic, and this impacts blood pressure.
  • Males are more diagnosed with high blood pressure up until age 64; women are more likely diagnosed after age 65
  • Certain races are more prone to develop high blood pressure and can be resistant to certain blood pressure medications
  • Diseases such as chronic kidney disease are risk factors for developing high blood pressure


While you may not have much control over these types of risk factors, you still have control over getting treatment and following treatment recommendations.


Frequently there are lifestyle changes that can really be effective and are modifiable risk factors.


  • Low physical activity level
  • Diets that are high in sodium, or unhealthy
  • BMI in the overweight or obese category
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Stress
  • Sleep problems or apnea


 What Can I Do About my High Blood Pressure?


Diagnosis by a healthcare professional is the most important first step. The second step is to follow your healthcare provider’s treatment recommendations which may include medication and lifestyle changes.


  • Always Know Your Numbers
  • Keep a Log
  • Make Lifestyle Changes that Are Effective
  • Follow Your Doctor’sAdvice
  •  Take your medications as prescribed


Knowledge is power, and proper management of your hypertension is key to living your best and healthiest life. It starts with diagnosis and continues with following your healthcare provider’s treatment plan.

Book a consultation with your primary care doctor today.