High Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is one of the easiest factors of your health to have screened and consistently monitor.
High Blood Pressure (or Hypertension) is a condition in which the blood pressure in your artery walls is too high. The greater the force, the higher your blood pressure. If left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to life-threatening diseases including coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke, and kidney failure.
It’s important to know that anyone can develop high blood pressure. In fact, hypertension is the most common cardiovascular disease. It can affect children and teens, and in the U.S. alone around 30% of adults have high blood pressure. Many cases go unnoticed due to a lack of symptoms or warning signs.
Risk factors for high blood pressure
Hypertension can have many causes. Some of the most commons risk factors include:
- Lack of exercise
- Alcoholism (more than 2 drinks per day)
- A family history of hypertension
- Older age
- Chronic kidney disease
- Adrenal and thyroid disorders
- Sleep apnea
Some medications have also been known to lead to high blood pressure indirectly. These medications can include:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – by making your body retain more fluid, NSAIDs may decrease the function of your kidneys. This could lead to higher blood pressure, as well as an increased risk for heart attack or stroke. Common NSAIDs include Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and Naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn).
- Cold and Cough Medications – Many of these drugs contain NSAIDs to relieve pain. Decongestants, like Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) may make your blood pressure and heart rate rise.
- Migraine Headache Medications – Sometimes, high blood pressure may lead to headaches and migraines. Unfortunately, many of the drugs that relieve headaches and migraines may actually contribute to high blood pressure.
What is “normal” blood pressure?
In order to determine if you have high blood pressure, you need to understand two numbers: your systolic (top number) and diastolic (bottom number) blood pressure. Systolic pressure is a measure of the force on your blood vessels, whereas diastolic pressure is a measure of the pressure in your arteries.
- Normal blood pressure: 120/80
- Prehypertension: 120–139/80–89
- Stage 1 hypertension*: 140–159/90–99
- Stage 2 hypertension: 160+/100+
*For people over the age of 60, 150+/90+ can be considered hypertension.
What if I have prehypertension?
Many people may fall into the prehypertension category based on their systolic (120–139) and diastolic (80–89) blood pressures. Prehypertension by itself is not an emergency. It just means that you are at risk for hypertension in the future.
Starting from a reading of 115/75, the risk of heart attack and stroke doubles for every 20-point jump in systolic blood pressure or every 10-point jump in diastolic blood pressure for adults between the ages of 40–70.
Controlling high blood pressure risk factors
If you have hypertension or prehypertension, there are many steps you can take to control/prevent high blood pressure. The key is knowing your risk factors and what you can or cannot control.
Factors YOU CAN control include:
- Your medication. Talk with your doctor about any medication you are currently taking, and the risk of increased blood pressure associated with each.
- Your habits. High alcohol consumption, a high sodium diet, lack of physical activity, and smoking can increase your risk of heart disease.
- Your health. Certain health problems may increase blood pressure, such as Chronic Kidney Disease, Adrenal and Thyroid disorders. High stress levels can also increase your risk.
Factors YOU CANNOT control include:
- Your age. The risk of high blood pressure increases with age.
- Your race/ethnicity. Certain ethnic groups, such as African Americans, have a greater risk of developing high blood pressure at an earlier age.
- Your family history. High blood pressure can be hereditary. Know your family history and take preventative measures early on if you are at risk.
If ANY of above risk factors apply to you or a loved one, make an appointment for an evaluation and early screening with Manhattan Cardiology. It only takes a minute to check for high blood pressure, and our high blood pressure treatments can immediately reduce your risks for more serious problems in the future.