What is high blood pressure (hypertension)?
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a common condition in which the force of blood against the walls of the arteries is consistently too high. This can lead to damage to the blood vessels and other organs, and increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other health problems.
Who's at risk for high blood pressure?
Anyone can develop high blood pressure, but certain populations may be at higher risk, including:
- People over the age of 60
- People with a family history of high blood pressure
- People who are overweight or obese
- People who smoke
- People with a sedentary lifestyle
- People with certain medical conditions, such as diabetes or kidney disease
What causes high blood pressure?
The exact cause of high blood pressure is often unknown, but risk factors may include genetic factors, lifestyle factors such as diet and physical activity, and underlying medical conditions.
How does high blood pressure start?
High blood pressure may not have any symptoms, which is why it is often called the "silent killer." When symptoms do occur, they may include headaches, shortness of breath, and nosebleeds.
What are the symptoms of high blood pressure?
The symptoms of high blood pressure may vary, but may include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
How is high blood pressure diagnosed?
Diagnosing high blood pressure typically involves measuring a person's blood pressure using a cuff and stethoscope or an electronic monitor. If high blood pressure is detected, additional tests may be done to determine the cause and assess any damage to the organs.
How can high blood pressure be treated?
Treatment for high blood pressure may involve lifestyle modifications, such as following a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and quitting smoking, as well as medications to help lower blood pressure. It is important to work with a healthcare provider to determine the best treatment plan based on individual needs.
What complications may occur with high blood pressure?
Complications of high blood pressure may include:
- Increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular problems
- Kidney damage or failure
- Vision loss
- Sexual dysfunction
- Memory problems
How can I prevent high blood pressure?
Taking steps to maintain a healthy lifestyle, such as following a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, and managing stress, may help reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure. It is also important to get regular blood pressure checks and work with a healthcare provider to manage any underlying medical conditions.
Long-term management of high blood pressure
People with high blood pressure may require ongoing medical care and monitoring to manage their condition and prevent future complications. This may involve regular use of medications to lower blood pressure, as well as lifestyle modifications to reduce the risk of complications.
What is recent research saying about high blood pressure?
Recent research in high blood pressure has focused on improving prevention, diagnosis, and management of the condition, as well as identifying new treatment options and risk factors. Some of the promising areas of research include:
- Investigation of the impact of sleep quality on blood pressure and the development of cardiovascular disease
- Exploration of the use of new medications and therapies to help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of complications
- Identification of new genetic factors and biomarkers that may help predict and prevent high blood pressure and related health problems
Where can I go for more information on high blood pressure?
If you or someone you know has high blood pressure or wants more information on the condition, it is important to seek help from a healthcare provider who specializes in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases. The following organizations also provide information and resources on high blood pressure:
- American Heart Association
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
- World Hypertension League