What is Considered High Blood Pressure and what are the Symptoms?

high blood pressure

Common symptoms of high blood pressure.
What are the signs of high blood pressure?

High blood pressure (hypertension), occurs when your blood pressure increases to unhealthy levels. Your blood pressure measurement takes into account how much blood is passing through your blood vessels and the amount of resistance the blood meets while the heart is pumping.

Hypertension typically develops over the course of several years. Usually, you don’t notice any symptoms. But even without symptoms, high blood pressure can cause damage to your blood vessels and organs, especially the brain, heart, eyes, and kidneys.

Hypertension is generally a silent condition. Many people won’t experience any symptoms. It may take years or even decades for the condition to reach levels severe enough that symptoms become obvious. Even then, these symptoms may be attributed to other issues.

Symptoms of high blood pressure can include:
  • Headaches
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nosebleeds
  • Flushing
  • Dizziness
  • Chest pain
  • Visual changes
  • Blood in the urine

These symptoms require immediate medical attention. They don’t occur in everyone with hypertension, but waiting for a symptom of this condition to appear could be fatal.

The best way to know if you have hypertension is to get regular blood pressure readings. Most doctors’ offices take a blood pressure reading at every appointment.

Causes of sudden high blood pressure.

Sudden high blood pressure is also known as secondary hypertension and these conditions can cause it:

  • Diabetes complications (diabetic nephropathy).Diabetes can damage your kidneys’ filtering system, which can lead to high blood pressure.
  • Polycystic kidney disease. In this inherited condition, cysts in your kidneys prevent the kidneys from working normally and can raise blood pressure.
  • Glomerular disease. Your kidneys filter waste and sodium using microscopic-sized filters called glomeruli that can sometimes become swollen. If the swollen glomeruli can’t work normally, you may develop high blood pressure.
  • Renovascular hypertension. This type of hypertension is caused by narrowing (stenosis) of one or both arteries leading to your kidneys.It’s often caused by the same type of fatty plaques that can damage your coronary arteries (atherosclerosis) or a separate condition in which the muscle and fibrous tissues of the renal artery wall thicken and harden into rings (fibromuscular dysplasia). Renovascular hypertension can cause irreversible kidney damage.
  • Cushing syndrome. In this condition, corticosteroid medications may cause secondary hypertension, or hypertension may be caused by a pituitary tumor or other factors that cause the adrenal glands to produce too much of the hormone cortisol.
  • In this condition, a tumor in the adrenal gland, increased growth of normal cells in the adrenal gland or other factors cause the adrenal glands to release an excessive amount of the hormone aldosterone. This makes your kidneys retain salt and water and lose too much potassium, which raises blood pressure.
  • This rare tumor, usually found in an adrenal gland, increases production of the hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline, which can lead to long-term high blood pressure or short-term spikes in blood pressure.
  • Thyroid problems. When the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone (hypothyroidism) or produces too much thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism), high blood pressure can result.
  • The parathyroid glands regulate levels of calcium and phosphorus in your body. If the glands secrete too much parathyroid hormone, the amount of calcium in your blood rises — which triggers a rise in blood pressure.
  • Coarctation of the aorta. With this defect you’re born with, the body’s main artery (aorta) is narrowed (coarctation). This forces the heart to pump harder to get blood through the aorta and to the rest of your body. This, in turn, raises blood pressure — particularly in your arms.
  • Sleep apnea. In this condition, often marked by severe snoring, breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep, causing you to not get enough oxygen.
    Not getting enough oxygen may damage the lining of the blood vessel walls, which may make your blood vessels less effective in regulating your blood pressure. In addition, sleep apnea causes part of the nervous system to be overactive and release certain chemicals that increase blood pressure.
  • As you gain weight, the amount of blood circulating through your body increases. This puts added pressure on your artery walls, increasing your blood pressure.
    Excess weight often is associated with an increase in heart rate and a reduction in the capacity of your blood vessels to transport blood. In addition, fat deposits can release chemicals that raise blood pressure. All of these factors can cause hypertension.
  • Pregnancy can make existing high blood pressure worse or may cause high blood pressure to develop (pregnancy-induced hypertension or preeclampsia).
  • Medications and supplements. Various prescription medications — such as pain relievers, birth control pills, antidepressants and drugs used after organ transplants — can cause or aggravate high blood pressure in some people.

What is the normal blood pressure and what is considered high blood pressure?

Use the blood pressure chart below to see what your blood pressure means. The blood pressure chart is suitable for adults of any age. (The level for high blood pressure does not change with age.)

blood pressure chart

Blood pressure readings have two numbers, for example 140/90mmHg.

The top number is your systolic blood pressure. (The highest pressure when your heart beats and pushes the blood round your body.) The bottom one is your diastolic blood pressure. (The lowest pressure when your heart relaxes between beats.)

The blood pressure chart below shows ranges of high, low and healthy blood pressure readings.

What blood pressure readings mean?

As you can see from the blood pressure chart, only one of the numbers has to be higher or lower than it should be to count as either high blood pressure or low blood pressure:

  • 90 over 60 (90/60) or less: You may have low blood pressure.
  • More than 90 over 60 (90/60) and less than 120 over 80 (120/80): Your blood pressure reading is ideal and healthy. Follow a healthy lifestyle to keep it at this level.
  • More than 120 over 80 and less than 140 over 90 (120/80-140/90): You have a normal blood pressure reading but it is a little higher than it should be, and you should try to lower it. Make healthy changes to your lifestyle.
  • 140 over 90 (140/90) or higher (over a number of weeks): You may have high blood pressure (hypertension). Change your lifestyle – see your doctor or nurse and take any medicines they may give you.So:
  • if your top number is 140 or more– then you may have high blood pressure, regardless of your bottom number.
  • In case your bottom number is 90 or more– then you may have high blood pressure, regardless your top number.
  • your top number is 90 or less– then you may have low blood pressure, regardless of your bottom number.
  • if your bottom number is 60 or less– then you may have low blood pressure, regardless of your top number.

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