In the beginning, high blood pressure typically doesn’t express noticeable symptoms. As a result, almost half of United States adults have high blood pressure, and many don’t know they’re affected.
If you’re at risk of developing high blood pressure, you can’t afford to wait until symptoms occur. Having high blood pressure increases your risk of developing heart disease and stroke, which rank as the leading causes of death in the United States.
You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to find out if you’re living with high blood pressure. It can be controlled and often reversed with prescription medication, a healthy diet, and lifestyle changes.
John Monroe, MD at Healthy Life Family Medicine in Goodyear, Arizona, provides expert diagnosis and management of the condition. If you’re diagnosed with high blood pressure, Dr. Monroe designs a treatment plan and recommends steps to stay healthy.
What is high blood pressure?
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a disease in which your blood travels through your arteries at more intense force, or pressure, than normal. The longer your blood pressure remains high, the more damage it can cause to your blood vessels.
Your blood pressure reading includes systolic blood pressure (a measure of the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats), and diastolic blood pressure (a measure of the pressure in your arteries when your heart rests between beats).
The American Heart Association categorizes five blood pressure ranges:
Normal Stage: Between 90/60 mm Hg and 120/80 mm Hg
No changes are recommended if you have readings in this range.
Elevated Stage: 120-129 systolic and less than 80 mm Hg diastolic
Readings in these ranges mean you’re likely to develop high blood pressure if you don’t take steps to control the condition.
Hypertension Stage 1: 130-139 systolic or 80-89 mm Hg diastolic
You may require lifestyle changes and blood pressure medication, depending on your risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD), which can cause a heart attack or stroke.
Hypertension Stage 2: 140/90 mm Hg or higher
You’re likely to require a combination of blood pressure medications and lifestyle changes to stay healthy.
Hypertensive Crisis: sudden increase to 180/120 mm Hg and the same reading five minutes later
If your blood pressure is in the range of 180/120 mm Hg and you have chest pains, back pain, shortness of breath, numbness/weakness, difficulty speaking, or a change in vision, you may be experiencing a hypertensive emergency and should call 911 for emergency care.
What are other symptoms?
Many people don’t experience symptoms when high blood pressure develops. The following symptoms may be related to high blood pressure though they’re not always caused by the disease:
- Blood spots in the eyes
- Facial flushing
- Blurred or double vision
- Nausea or vomiting
- Heart palpitations
Who is at risk?
Many factors contribute to increasing your risk of developing high blood pressure. Some risk factors for high blood pressure that you can’t change include:
Your risk of developing high blood pressure is higher if your parents or other immediate blood relatives have the disease.
You’re more likely to get high blood pressure as you get older. With age, your blood vessels lose their elasticity, which can make you vulnerable to increased blood pressure.
Men experience high blood pressure more than women in adults under age 65. After 65, women are more likely to develop the condition.
African-Americans develop high blood pressure more often than individuals of other backgrounds.
How can I reduce my risk?
If you have risk factors for high blood pressure, you can take steps to prevent the condition. Here are strategies to reduce your risk:
- Establish and maintain a healthy weight
- Eat a healthy diet rich in protein and fiber and low in salt, sugar, and saturated fat
- Manage stress with healthy coping mechanisms like meditation, yoga, and exercise
- Get plenty of sleep to allow your body a period of rest and lower blood pressure
- Limit alcohol consumption
- Control chronic diseases like diabetes, high cholesterol, and obstructive sleep apnea
- Avoid smoking and tobacco use, which can temporarily increase your blood pressure
Having regular medical checkups and monitoring your blood pressure help to ensure that you get an early diagnosis and begin treatment before the disease causes serious complications.
Find out more about your risk for high blood pressure and what you can do to stay healthy. Schedule a consultation with our team online, or call our office at 623-232-9194 today.