High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

What Is High Blood Pressure?

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a build of high pressure/tension in the arteries. These arteries are vessels that carry blood from the heart to the rest of the body. Blood pressure readings are measured in systolic blood pressure and diastolic pressure.

High Blood PressureSystolic pressure is the top number and equals the pressure in the arteries as the heart contracts, whereas the diastolic pressure is the bottom number and measures the pressure in the arteries as the heart relaxes.

What Is Normal Blood Pressure? A healthy blood pressure is usually below 120/80. When blood pressure is anywhere between 120/80 and 139/89 it is referred to as pre-hypertension. It’s important to have a normal blood pressure, as it can cause health complications that can impact on your life.

What Is Low Blood Pressure? When a blood pressure reading has a systolic pressure of about 90 to 100 it is considered low blood pressure. Whereas when a reading is 140/90 or higher it is classed as high blood pressure.

Complications of high blood pressure can lead to conditions such as heart disease, kidney disease, hardening of the arteries, damage to the eyes and even a stroke. These can lead to permanent damage in the form of atherosclerosis, arteriosclerosis and brain damage.

What Causes High Blood Pressure?

Many people suffer from hypertension due to the lifestyle they live. Some of the most common causes of high blood pressure are:

  • Alcohol & Caffeine – Drinking too much alcohol or having a high caffeine intake can lead to high blood pressure readings
  • Salt Intake – High blood pressure readings can be as a result of high salt intake or salt sensitivity. This is most likely to occur in older people, people who suffer from kidney problems or people who are classed as obese.
  • Genetic Predisposition – Some people have a genetic predisposition for high blood pressure. People who have one or two parents who suffer from hypertension are most likely to suffer from high blood pressure.
  • Abnormality Of The Arteries – It’s not uncommon for people to have an increased resistance in their arteries. The increased stiffness and lack of elasticity in the arteries can develop in individuals who are obese, don’t exercise or have a high salt intake.
  • Over The Age Of 65 – People over the age of 65 are more susceptible to high blood pressure.

How Is Blood Pressure Measured?

Blood Pressure CheckBlood pressure is measured using a sphygmomanometer. This contains an air pump and a pressure gauge, that measure the pressure units in the blood; these are called millimetres of mercury. A general practitioner will place the cuff around the upper arm and inflate the air pump to a pressure that will stop the flow of the blood.

When it deflates the practitioner will listen to the pulsation of the arteries and this is the recorded systolic pressure. The cuff will continue to decrease and the pressure at which the pulsation stops is recorded as the diastolic pressure. These will then be combined to give you your overall blood pressure, which means your measure can be compared with the blood pressure range.

High Blood Pressure Symptoms

When you suffer from hypertension, it’s likely you’ll experience some of the signs and symptoms of high blood pressure such as:

  • Severe Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • General Confusion
  • Chest Pain
  • Vision Problems
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Irregular Heartbeat
  • Blood In The Urine

These are just a few of the most common signs of high blood pressure. Should you experience one or a number of them, then it’s important to go and have your blood pressure taken.

Effects of High Blood Pressure

Hypertension is commonly known as a silent killer as it can lead to multiple health complications that can be life threatening. High blood pressure can quietly damage a number of different parts in your body. Some of the effects it can have are:

  • Arterial Damage – Damaged and narrowed arteries can damage the cells of your arteries inner linings. This causes them to be less elasticated which in turn limits the blood flow. Suffering from constant high blood pressure can lead to an aneurysm forming.
  • Damage To Your Heart – Uncontrolled high blood pressure can damage your heart in a number of ways, which can lead to coronary heart disease, enlarged left heart and in worst case scenarios heart failure.
  • Brain Damage – Brain damage can come in many forms and can lead to things such as transient ischemic attacks, strokes, dementia and mild cognitive impairment.
  • Kidney Problems – The kidney filters excess fluid and waste from your blood, so when your blood vessels are unhealthy this is more difficult to do. Problems can then occur such as kidney failure, kidney scarring or possibly even kidney artery aneurysm.

Suffering From Hypertension

Suffering from High Blood Pressure in Pregnancy

High blood pressure in pregnancy, isn’t something to be necessarily worried about and there are many different types of hypertension a pregnant woman can suffer from. Such as:

  • Gestational Hypertension – This usually develops after 20 weeks of pregnancy and can lead to preeclampsia developing
  • Chronic Hypertension – Chronic hypertension typically develops before you’re 20 weeks pregnant. Because this doesn’t show any symptoms it can be difficult to determine when it started.
  • Chronis Hypertension & Superimposed Preeclampsia – This develops when women with chronic high blood pressure, it leads to higher blood pressure and other health complications during pregnancy.
  • Preeclampsia – Sometimes chronic hypertension or gestational hypertension leads to preeclampsia, a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and signs of damage to another organ systems, usually after 20 weeks of pregnancy. When left untreated, preeclampsia can lead to serious and even fatal complications for both the mother and baby.

Most women who are pregnant are likely to suffer from high blood pressure. Doctors or nurses will regularly carry out blood pressure checks during your pregnancy.

How to Reduce High Blood Pressure

Hypertension is usually easy to treat and is most commonly done through high blood pressure medication. Using high blood pressure tablets and lifestyle changes can help you learn how to control high blood pressure. Some of the most common hypertension medication to be prescribed is:

  • ACE Inhibitors
  • Angiotensin-2 Receptor Blockers (ARBs)
  • Calcium Channel Blockers
  • Diuretics
  • Beta-Blockers
  • Alpha-Blockers
  • Renin Inhibitors

Hypertension Medication

In addition to using hypertension tablets, there a number of lifestyle changes that can be used to help prevent and lower blood pressure. Carrying out the following can be successful in lowering blood pressure:

  • Reduce the amount of salt in your diet
  • Cut back on alcohol intake
  • Losing weight especially if you’re classed as overweight or obese
  • Regular exercise
  • Cutting down on caffeine
  • Stopping smoking
  • Ensuring at least six hours sleep a night

How Do I Check My Blood Pressure?

If you’re worried you might be suffering from hypertension, then it’s important to visit your local healthcare facility to get your blood pressure checked. Here at Broadgate GP, we offer hypertension appointments.

Hypertension Checks

Book your appointment for a high blood pressure check

Blood Pressure FAQs

What’s Classed As High Blood Pressure?

Any readings that are higher than 140 systolic or 90 diastolic are considered high.

Can Stress Cause High Blood Pressure?

When you’re stressed your body produces a surge in hormones, these hormones temporarily increase your blood pressure. Whilst stress can cause sporadic high blood pressure, there’s no evidence to prove that stress can cause long-term high blood pressure.

What Should My Blood Pressure Be?

Ideal blood pressure should be more than 120 over 80 and less than 140 over 90. If your reading is only slightly over then slight lifestyle changes can bring it down.

What Does It Mean If You Have High Blood Pressure?

If you have high blood pressure, then this puts a strain on your heart and blood vessels. Overtime this can lead to serious things such as a heart attack or stroke. Hypertension is also know to cause heart and kidney disease and has been linked to dementia.