- High blood pressure (HBP) is a serious condition that can lead to coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke, kidney failure and other health problems.
- "Blood pressure" is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps out blood. When this pressure rises and stays high over time, it can damage the body in many ways.
- Blood pressure numbers include systolic and diastolic pressures. Systolic blood pressure is the pressure when the heart beats while pumping blood. Diastolic blood pressure is the pressure when the heart is at rest between beats.
- All blood pressure levels above 120/80 mmHg increase your risk for the health problems related to HBP. A blood pressure level of 140/90 mmHg or higher is considered HBP for most adults. If you have diabetes or chronic kidney disease, a blood pressure of 130/80 mmHg or higher is considered HBP.
- Blood pressure tends to rise with age. Certain medical problems and medicines may cause blood pressure to rise. In some women, blood pressure can go up if they use birth control pills, become pregnant, or take hormone replacement therapy.
- Children younger than 10 years who have HBP often have another condition that's causing it (such as kidney disease). Treating the underlying condition may resolve HBP.
Certain traits, conditions, or habits may raise your risk for HBP. These include older age, race/ethnicity, overweight or obesity, gender, unhealthy lifestyle habits, a family history of HBP, long-lasting stress, and having prehypertension (blood pressure levels between 120–139/80–89).
- HBP itself usually has no symptoms. Rarely, headaches may occur. Some people only learn that they have HBP after it causes health problems, such as coronary heart disease, stroke, or kidney failure.
- Your doctor will diagnose HBP using the results of a blood pressure test. This test is easy and painless. It may be done several times to make sure the results are correct.
The ranges for normal blood pressure and HBP are different for youth than for adults. These ranges are based on the average blood pressure levels for a child or teen's age, gender, and height.
- If you have normal blood pressure, you can take steps to prevent or delay HBP. Healthy lifestyle habits can help you maintain normal blood pressure.
- If you have HBP, you can take steps to prevent the long-term problems it can cause. Adopt healthy lifestyle habits and follow the treatment plan your doctor prescribes.
Healthy habits can help you control HBP. Healthy habits include:
- Following a healthy eating plan
- Doing enough physical activity
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Quitting smoking
- Managing your stress and learning to cope with stress