Health Care

High Blood Pressure: Causes, Symptoms and Management

A Nurse Smiles as she Takes a Patient's Blood Pressure Readings.

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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 manage high blood pressure effectively is key to maintaining optimal heart health.

Cha Lee, MD, a family medicine physician at AdventHealth Medical Group Land O’ Lakes, shares the details you should know about high blood pressure so you can be more equipped to take proactive steps toward managing your condition while living your best life. Your heart will thank you.

What is High Blood Pressure?

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:

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:

  • A 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 called the ‘silent killer’ because it doesn’t usually cause noticeable symptoms,” shares Dr. Lee. “And in some cases, when symptoms are present, you might not realize they’re blood pressure related.”

Patients with high blood pressure 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

“Managing high blood pressure involves a combination of lifestyle modifications and sometimes medication,” says Dr. Lee. Here are some 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 entire 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, your doctor may prescribe medication to control blood pressure levels
  • Follow the prescribed treatment plan and consult with your health care provider about any concerns or side effects

“High blood pressure doesn’t have to be a long-term health concern. Your primary care provider can work with you and help you effectively manage your blood pressure so you can get back to feeling your best,” says Dr. Lee.

Expert Heart Care at AdventHealth

If you have concerns about high blood pressure or need expert guidance for its management, we’re here to help. Our compassionate, experienced health care professionals offer comprehensive care and support for your heart health.

Schedule a primary care appointment and begin your journey to better heart health today.

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