High Blood Pressure

blood_pressureApproximately 1 in 3 U.S. adults have high blood pressure, but because there are no symptoms, nearly one third of these people don’t know they have it. Many people have high blood pressure for years without knowing it. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to stroke, heart attack, heart failure or kidney failure. This is why high blood pressure is often called the “silent killer”.

 

 

Blood pressure is the force of blood against the artery walls. Blood pressure varies throughout the day. When it stays up over time, it’s called high blood pressure or hypertension.

Current Guidelines for Adults

Category Systolic
(top number)
Diastolic
(bottom number)
Normal Less than 120 and Less than 80
Prehypertension 120–139 or 80–89
Stage I Hypertension 140–159 or 90–99
Stage 2 Hypertension 160 or higher or 100 or higher

How can I lower my blood pressure?

Lifestyle Changes

Changes that may help lower your blood pressure include:

  • Low salt diet
  • Weight loss (Even 10 pounds can lower blood pressure)
  • Exercise
  • Quitting Smoking
  • Reducing alcohol consumption
  • Reducing Stress

Medications

You may need medications to assist you with managing your blood pressure. There are several types of medication that assist with lowering blood pressure. These include medications that:

Reduce fluid – These drugs get rid of extra fluids and sodium which helps your blood pressure go down.

Act on your heart rate – These drugs block chemicals that make the heart beat faster. They help the heart to beat more slowly with less force causing the blood pressure to fall.

Help blood flow more freely – Some drugs expand blood vessels. They also help your heart and blood vessels overall. They can also help protect your kidneys if you have diabetes, too.

Block calcium from the heart – These drugs block calcium from the heart and blood vessel muscle cells. Calcium makes these muscles squeeze shut. When calcium is blocked, these muscles don’t squeeze as much. Blood vessels relax so the heart gets more blood and oxygen. This helps lower blood pressure.

You may need to stay on your medicine long-term to control your blood pressure. Don’t stop taking your medicine because you feel fine – consult with your health-care provider first.

The most important action to take is to monitor your blood pressure.