Health Care

High Blood Pressure: Causes, Symptoms and Management

A Physician Checks Her Patient's Blood Pressure

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High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a common health condition that affects millions of people across the globe. It’s a significant risk factor for heart disease, stroke and other heart complications. Understanding its causes, symptoms and strategies to effectively manage high blood pressure is key to maintaining optimal heart health.

Stamatis Damalos, DO, our specialist in internal medicine, is here with expert guidance on high blood pressure. Keep reading so you can be more equipped to take proactive steps towards managing high blood pressure while you live your best life. Your heart will thank you.

What is High Blood Pressure?

According to Dr. Damalos, “Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a chronic medical condition characterized by consistently elevated blood pressure levels. It occurs when the force of blood against the walls of the arteries is too high, which puts unneeded strain on your cardiovascular system.”

Here are some key points to know about high blood pressure from Dr. Damalos:

A normal blood pressure range is typically defined as below 120/80 mmHg. High blood pressure is defined as:

  • Stage 1: Blood pressure ranging from 130-139/80-89 mmHg
  • Stage 2: Blood pressure equal to or greater than 140/90 mmHg

Primary and Secondary Hypertension:

  • Primary hypertension refers to high blood pressure without a specific underlying cause
  • Secondary hypertension is caused by an underlying health condition such as kidney disease or a hormonal disorder

High Blood Pressure Causes and Risk Factors

Understanding the causes and risk factors associated with high blood pressure can help identify potential preventive measures. Here are some common factors:

Lifestyle:

  • Unhealthy eating habits, excessive salt intake, physical inactivity and obesity can contribute to the development of high blood pressure
  • Adopting a balanced diet, engaging in regular physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce the risk of high blood pressure

Genetics and Family History:

  • Family history of high blood pressure increases the likelihood of developing it yourself
  • Genetic factors can influence blood pressure regulation and sensitivity to environmental factors

Age and Gender:

  • High blood pressure becomes more prevalent as people age
  • Men are generally at a higher risk of developing high blood pressure at an earlier age
  • The risk for women tends to increase after menopause

Recognizing High Blood Pressure: Common Symptoms

“High blood pressure is often referred to as the "silent killer" because it doesn’t usually cause noticeable symptoms,” explains Dr. Damalos. However, in some cases, patients might experience the following signs:

Headaches:

  • Some people with high blood pressure experience persistent headaches, especially in the morning

Shortness of Breath:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath can occur in severe cases of high blood pressure, especially during physical exertion

Nosebleeds:

  • While not a common symptom, unexplained nosebleeds can sometimes be associated with high blood pressure

Effective Strategies for Blood Pressure Management

Dr. Damalos reminds us, “Managing high blood pressure involves a combination of lifestyle modifications and sometimes medication.” Here are some of Dr. Damalos’ recommended strategies for effective blood pressure management:

Healthy Lifestyle Habits:

  • Adopt a heart-healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy products. Make heart-healthy cooking fun and engaging for the whole family
  • Engage in regular physical activity and maintain a healthy weight
  • Limit salt intake and avoid excessive alcohol consumption

Regular Monitoring:

  • Regular blood pressure monitoring helps keep track of changes and treatment effectiveness
  • Home blood pressure monitors can be used under the guidance of a health care professional

Medication:

  • In some cases, medication may be prescribed to control blood pressure levels
  • Follow the prescribed treatment plan and consult with your health care provider about any concerns or side effects

Your Heart Is in Good Hands at AdventHealth

If you have concerns about high blood pressure or need professional support for its management, AdventHealth is here to help. Our compassionate experienced health care experts, like Dr. Damalos, offer comprehensive care and support for your heart health.

Visit us at AHMGTampaBay.com to learn more about our cardiology services and schedule an appointment with our specialists.

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