February 22, 2024

High Blood Pressure: Effects, Treatment, and Prevention

Preventative Health
High Blood Pressure Graphic for Effects, Treatment, and Prevention of High Blood Pressure

American Heart Month is a reminder to focus on your heart health and the choices you are making every day to live a long and healthy life. One thing that can put you at risk for heart disease is high blood pressure.

What is High Blood Pressure & The Causes

The way your heart beats is by a force of blood being pushed against the artery walls as the blood is pumped from the heart into the blood vessels, during this process your blood pressure is at a systolic pressure. High blood pressure, which can also be called hypertension, is when the force of blood is too high during heart contraction or relaxation within the arteries. When you have high blood pressure, it causes your arteries to increase resistance against the blood flow, which causes your heart to pump harder to circulate the blood. Different factors can cause an individual to have high blood pressure, such as being overweight, having a high sodium diet, not getting enough exercise, having high levels of stress, excessive alcohol use, not getting enough sleep, and a family history of high blood pressure.

Who is at Risk for High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is a lot more common than people think. More than half of adult Americans have high blood pressure. Things that can put you at risk for this are diabetes or kidney disease, if you’re a middle-aged or older person, depression, if you’re pregnant or taking birth control pills, smoking, or using stimulant drugs like cocaine or meth. High blood pressure oftentimes has no symptoms, and a person might not even know they have it.

How is it Diagnosed?

Although there are no symptoms of having high blood pressure, you can check your own blood pressure with an electronic blood pressure monitor.

This monitor records two numbers as mm Hg –

  • The systolic pressure, which is the top number, is the pressure inside the artery when the heart contracts and pumps blood through the body.
  • The diastolic pressure, which is the bottom number, is the pressure inside the artery when the heart is at rest and is filling with blood.

Blood Pressure Stages

Blood Pressure Stages Infographic

Blood pressure is recorded in five different levels –
  • Normal blood pressure is systolic of less than 120 & diastolic of less than 80 (120/80).
  • Elevated blood pressure is systolic of 120 to 129 and diastolic less than 80.
  • Stage 1 high blood pressure is when the systolic is 130 to 139 or the diastolic is 80-89.
  • Stage 2 high blood pressure is when the systolic is 140 or higher or the diastolic is 90 or higher.
  • Hypertensive crisis is when blood pressure is systolic of 180 or higher or diastolic of 120 or higher. It consists of symptoms indicating brain, heart, or kidney damage, and requires you to seek emergency care.

Damage to The Arteries & The Heart

High blood pressure can damage both the arteries and your heart. It eventually damages the cells of the arteries’ inner lining when fats from food enter the bloodstream and collect in the damaged arteries. With time, the arteries become less elastic creating less blood flow throughout the body. The constant pressure of blood moving through a weakened artery can cause part of the artery wall to bulge into a bubble – also known as an aneurysm. An aneurysm can burst open and cause life-threatening bleeding inside the body. High blood pressure can also cause things like coronary artery disease, heart failure, enlarged left heart, and metabolic syndrome.

Treatments & Prevention

As you’ve heard times before, high blood pressure can be treated by making lifestyle changes. Choose foods that are low in sodium, calories, and fat, and high in fiber, maintain a healthy weight, or lose weight, if need be, exercise more and get enough sleep, stop smoking, and try to reduce your stress levels. If you think that you or anyone you know may have a chance of having high blood pressure, please visit our cardiology department online at Cardiology – Fort HealthCare or call (920) 563-5571 to schedule an appointment with a Cardiologist.


High Blood Pressure/Hypertension (staywellhealthlibrary.com)
High blood pressure dangers: Hypertension’s effects on your body – Mayo Clinic