What is high blood pressure?

You may have heard of high blood pressure or hypertension before.  High blood pressure refers to tension or high pressure that is found in the arteries, which are the primary vessels that transport blood from the heart to all the other parts of the body.  When you get a blood pressure reading, the results are given in two numbers, namely the systolic blood pressure, which is the number that is found on top, and the diastolic blood pressure, which is typically the bottom number.

The systolic blood pressure refers to the pressure in the arteries as the heart contracts while the diastolic one is the pressure experienced when the heart relaxes.  A person can be said to have normal blood pressure when their pressure is below 120/80. Blood pressure that falls between 120/80 and 139/89 is referred to as hypertension.  A pressure reading of 140/90 is considered high while a systolic reading of 90 to 100 can be categorized as low blood pressure.  

Hypertension is dangerous because it forces the heart to work harder than it should to pump blood outside the body and can contribute to a range of conditions including hardened arteries, stroke, kidney disease, atherosclerosis and heart failure.

Causes of high blood pressure

  • Old age
  • Sleep apnea
  • Being overweight or being obese
  • Large quantities of salt in the diet
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Genetics
  • High-stress levels
  • Overconsumption of alcohol
  • Family history of high blood pressure
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Genetics
  • Adrenal and thyroid disorders

Essential hypertension

Sometimes when a person suffers from high blood pressure and the underlying cause cannot be determined; this type of high blood pressure is referred to as essential hypertension.  Although it is a mysterious condition, essential hypertension has been linked to a history of high blood pressure in families while age and race are also known to play a factor.

How to identify high blood pressure

High blood pressure typically has no symptoms or signs. Therefore, the only way to know or identify if you have high blood pressure is to measure it.  Please note that blood pressure readings may vary and having a high reading does not necessarily mean that you suffer from high blood pressure.  A lot of things can affect your pressure throughout the day, so your doctor should record a number of results and readings to determine if you suffer from the condition or not.  If you are concerned about having high blood pressure, you should consult with your doctor.

Updated: February 7, 2019 — 9:52 am

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