What Is High Blood Pressure?

Blood pumping through the blood vessels or arteries exerts a pressure on the their wall, that is called blood pressure.

The upper or systolic number refers to the pressure exerted when the heart is in the contraction phase to pump out blood into the circulation and diastolic or lower number is when the heart in is the relaxation phase, in between beats, that is when the heart’s ventricles are getting filled with blood.

Now, just as too much water pressure can damage pipes and faucets, elevated blood pressure or Hypertension can cause damage too.

Hypertension Blood Pressure Ranges

Optimal BP is less than 120/80 mm Hg.

You have:

  • Elevated blood pressure: Your systolic pressure is 120-129, and your diastolic pressure is less than 80.
  • Stage I hypertension: Systolic 130-139 or diastolic 80-89.
  • Stage II hypertension: Systolic at least 140 or diastolic at least 90.
  • Hypertensive crisis: blood pressure is 180/120 or higher. You may or may not also have symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, numbness/weakness, and trouble with vision or with speaking. This is an emergency.

What are the effects of high Blood Pressure?

Over time, elevated pressure can cause several serious problems.

> The heart can become enlarged, increasing the danger of heart attack and heart failure. >Damage to blood vessels in the kidneys can cause them to fail. >Tiny blood vessels in the eyes are especially susceptible to damage, hypertension can lead to vision problems and even blindness.

Types of Hypertension:

  • Essential hypertension (majority cases)
  • Secondary hypertension


There’s no specific cause identified in cases of Essential hypertension.

Many risk factors can lead to it like

  • Diet— Too much salt, too little potassium, alcohol, consumption of fried and processed food.
  • Stress
  • Inactive lifestyle
  • Obesity
  • Genetics or family history of hypertension
  • Diabetes

What Is Secondary Hypertension?

When a direct cause for high blood pressure can be identified, that’s secondary hypertension.

Kidney disease is the most common cause. Other causes like adrenal gland tumor, intake of birth control pills or as an adverse effect of long term high dose steroid intake. How Can I Prevent High Blood Pressure?

Lifestyle changes are of paramount importance when it comes to blood pressure.

  1. Consider your diet: Try following the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension eating plan, also known as the DASH diet, which emphasizes plenty of fruits and vegetables and low-fat or nonfat dairy products.

Stay away from salt and saturated fats and eliminate trans fats.

Focus instead on foods that are high in fiber, calcium, and magnesium.

The National High Blood Pressure Education Program recommends no more than 2,300 milligrams — equal to one teaspoon — of sodium a day. The ideal is even lower — only 1,500mg.

  1. Get plenty of exercise. Regular aerobic workouts condition the heart and keep blood vessels working properly. It’s also wise to be as active as possible throughout the day.
  2. Maintain ideal body weight: Even shedding a few pounds can make a big difference.
  3. Stop smoking and alcohol intake: Your doctor can help with incorporating the most effective ways to do so.

If you also need medication to lower your blood pressure, there are several types:

  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors
  • Alpha blockers
  • Angiotensin II receptor blockers
  • Beta-blockers
  • Calcium channel blockers
  • Central agonists
  • Vasodilators
  • Diuretics
  • Combination medications

Deciding whether you need medication is often done on a case-by-case basis. In case of hypertensive crisis intravenous medications may be needed in hospital emergency to quickly lower down the extreme BP. Your doctor will decide which is the appropriate approach for you.