How Do I Know if I Have High Blood Pressure?

How Do I Know if I Have High Blood Pressure?

Almost half the adults in the United States have high blood pressure, but less than 25% have it under control, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Your blood pressure is a measurement of how hard your blood presses against the walls of your arteries, and it indicates how well your heart and vascular system work. The medical name for high blood pressure is hypertension. 

Hypertension is sometimes called the silent killer because you may not have any symptoms, even if your blood pressure is so high you’re in danger of heart failure or stroke.

One of the reasons the providers at Heart & Vascular Institute check your blood pressure at each visit is because hypertension can damage your blood vessels and increase your risk of numerous, serious conditions.

The numbers

Your blood pressure reading comprises two numbers, written like a fraction, for example, 130 over 90. Here’s what those numbers mean:

Systolic

The top number is your systolic pressure, and it measures the pressure of your blood in your arteries when your heart beats. It’s the higher number because your heartbeat forces your blood through your vessels.

Diastolic

The bottom number shows the blood pressure in your arteries between heartbeats. It’s lower because your heart is relaxed. 

What’s normal? 

A normal blood pressure reading is 120/80 or lower. If your reading is 130-139 over 80-89, you have stage 1 hypertension.

Stage 2 is 140 over 90 or higher. Most people with stage 1 or stage 2 hypertension don’t have symptoms. Many patients are surprised to learn they have high blood pressure. 

Anything from 180/120 more than one time per week is considered a hypertensive crisis and means you should seek medical attention immediately. Blood pressure that high can be accompanied by symptoms such as:

However, it’s possible to be in a hypertensive crisis and have no signs or symptoms.

Monitoring your blood pressure

You might have a higher blood pressure reading in our office than usual, a circumstance sometimes called white coat syndrome or white coat hypertension. Researchers don’t fully understand why some people have higher blood pressure in a health care setting. 

One way to find out if you have white coat syndrome is to monitor your blood pressure at home. We can help you determine what type of blood pressure monitor to get and how to use it properly.

We can also guide you regarding how often you should take your blood pressure. Monitoring at home, over time, provides a better picture of your blood pressure. It can also be a good way to find out if a given treatment approach is working.

Get expert advice

Hypertension is widespread and underdiagnosed, so it’s a good idea to know your baseline reading and be aware of your risk. That’s especially true if you have a reason to be concerned about your blood pressure, such as a family history of hypertension.

To learn more, schedule an appointment by phone or online today at a Heart & Vascular Institute location in Dearborn, Detroit, Southfield, or Wayne, Michigan.

 

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