High Blood Pressure - Hypertension (HTN)
High blood pressure, or hypertension (HTN), is a common condition in the United States. High blood pressure is termed a “silent killer” because it usually does not have symptoms but can cause significant cardiovascular and organ damage. The only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to get tested. High blood pressure can be controlled with lifestyle changes and medications. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to life threatening medical conditions.
Your blood pressure is recorded as two numbers. Your systolic blood pressure is recorded as the top number and your diastolic blood pressure is the bottom number. For example, a blood pressure that is 120/80 mm Hg is stated as “120 over 80.” In this instance, the systolic blood pressure is 120 and the diastolic blood pressure is 80.
|Systolic (Top Number)
|Diastolic (Bottom Number)
|Less than 120
|Less than 80
|High Blood Pressure- Stage 1
|High Blood Pressure- Stage 2
|160 or Higher
|100 or Higher
Am I at Risk
High blood pressure is a common problem in the United States. Risk factors may increase your likelihood of high blood pressure, although some people that experience high blood pressure do not have any risk factors. People with all of the risk factors may never develop high blood pressure; however, the likelihood increases with the more risk factors you have. You should tell your doctor about your risk factors and discuss your concerns.
Risk factors for high blood pressure:
_____ High blood pressure occurs more frequently in African Americans than in Caucasians. African American women have the highest incidence of severe high blood pressure.
_____ Aging increases your chance of developing high blood pressure. Men develop high blood pressure most frequently between age 35 and 55. Women develop it most frequently after menopause.
_____ Being overweight increases your risk for high blood pressure.
_____ People that tend to store fat on their bellies (central obesity or apple shaped people) have a higher risk than people that store fat on their hips and thighs (pear shaped people).
_____ If other members in your family have high blood pressure, your risk for developing the condition increases.
_____ Prehypertension (blood pressure that is 120-139/80-89 mm Hg) is a risk factor for high blood pressure.
_____ Smoking increases your blood pressure.
_____ Eating too much salt can increase blood pressure.
_____ Consuming too much alcohol increases your risk for high blood pressure.
_____ A sedentary lifestyle without enough physical activity is associated with an increased risk for high blood pressure.
_____ Prolonged anxiety or stress can increase your risk of high blood pressure.
_____ Certain medications, including appetite suppressants, cold medicine, cough medicine, flu medicine, decongestants, and migraine medications can increase blood pressure.
_____ Illegal drugs, such as cocaine, can increase blood pressure.
_____ Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, arteriosclerosis, renal artery stenosis, and coarctation of the aorta can contribute to high blood pressure.
_____ Women that take birth controls have an increased risk for high blood pressure. The risk is even greater for women that take birth control pills and smoke.
_____ Pain can cause blood pressure to increase.
_____ A low potassium or low calcium intake can cause blood pressure to increase.
_____ Pregnant women have an increased risk for developing high blood pressure, especially during the last three months of pregnancy. High blood pressure that is associated with pregnancy tends to resolve after delivery.
_____ Teenagers that are overweight and more sexually mature tend to have high blood pressure.
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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.
The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on February 16, 2022. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit www.iHealthSpot.com.