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Hypertension is abnormally high blood pressure, a condition in which the force of the blood against the artery walls is too high.

Usually hypertension is defined as blood pressure above 140/90, and is considered severe if the pressure is above 180/120.

High blood pressure often has no symptoms. Over time, if untreated, it may cause health conditions, such as stroke or heart disease.

Eating a healthier diet with less salt, exercising regularly, and taking medications can help lower blood pressure.

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Usually, most people with high blood pressure have no signs or symptoms, even when blood pressure reaches dangerously high levels.

In some cases, few people with high blood pressure may feel headaches, shortness of breath or nosebleeds, but these signs and symptoms aren't quite specific and usually wouldn't occur until blood pressure has reached a severe high level, and it is at that point at at life-threatening stage.

When to see a doctor


It is highly recommended to check your blood pressure routinely.

You would also need to ask your doctor for a blood pressure reading at least every two years starting at age 18.

If you're age 40 or older, or you're 18 to 39 with possibility of a high risk of high blood pressure, ask your doctor for a blood pressure reading every year.

Blood pressure generally should be checked in both arms for accuracy and to determine if there's any difference in reading results.

Your doctor will likely recommend more frequent readings if you've been diagnosed with high blood pressure or have other risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Checking your blood pressure at your doctor clinic is more accurate than using public blood pressure machines, such as those found in supermarket pharmacies, the accuracy of these machines depends on several factors, such as a correct cuff size and proper use of the machines.


Primary Hypertension

For most adults, there's no certain cause of this type of high blood pressure, it is called primary hypertension and tends to develop gradually over years.

Secondary Hypertension

This type of high blood pressure, called secondary hypertension, tends to appear suddenly by an underlying condition, and cause higher blood pressure than does primary hypertension.


Studies indicate that various conditions and medications may cause secondary hypertension, including:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea

  • Kidney problems

  • Adrenal gland tumors

  • Thyroid problems

  • Certain defects you're born with (congenital) in blood vessels

  • Certain medications, such as birth control pills, cold remedies, decongestants, over-the-counter pain relievers and some prescription drugs

  • Illegal drugs, such as cocaine and amphetamines


Risk Factors


There are many many risk factors of hypertension, including:

  • Age, the risk of hypertension increases as you age. While it is common do develop in men until about age 64, it is likely to develop in women after age 65.

  • Race, hypertension is more common among people of African heritage, and it often develops at an earlier age than it does in other ethnicities. Serious complications, such as stroke, heart attack and kidney failure, also are more common in people of African heritage.

  • Family history, hypertension tends to run in families.

  • Overweight or obese, The more you weigh the more blood you need to supply oxygen and nutrients to your tissues. As the volume of blood circulated through your blood vessels increases, so does the pressure on your artery walls.

  • Physical activity, people who are inactive tend to have higher heart rates. The higher your heart rate, the harder your heart must work with each contraction and so that cause stronger pressure on your arteries. Lack of physical activity also increases the risk of being overweight.

  • Tobacco or smoking, not only does smoking or chewing tobacco immediately raise your blood pressure temporarily, but the chemicals in tobacco may cause damage to your artery walls lining. This can cause your arteries to narrow and increase your risk of heart disease. Secondhand smoke also may increase your heart disease risk.

  • Overdose of salt, too much sodium in your diet can cause your body to retain fluid, which increases blood pressure.

  • Too little potassium in diet, potassium helps balance the amount of sodium in your cells, insufficient amount of potassium may result in allowing too much sodium to accumulate in your blood.

  • Too much alcohol, Over time, heavy drinking may damage your heart and affect your blood pressure.

  • Stress, significant levels of stress may lead to a temporary increase in blood pressure.

  • Chronic conditions, certain chronic conditions also can increase your risk of hypertension, such as kidney disease, diabetes and sleep apnea.

  • Pregnancy, in some cases, pregnancy contributes to high blood pressure, as well.

Although hypertension is mostly common in adults, children also may be at risk. Besides poor lifestyle habits, unhealthy diet, obesity and lack of exercise, for some children or kids, hypertension is caused by problems with their kidneys or heart.



Hypertension may cause damage to artery walls, blood vessels and organs in your body.

The longer that condition is ignored and left without proper treatment the greater the damage it can cause to your body.

Uncontrolled hypertension (high blood pressure) can lead to many complications including:

  • Heart attack or stroke, hypertension may cause hardening and thickening of the arteries, which can possibly lead to a heart attack, stroke or other serious complications.

  • Aneurysm, increased blood pressure can cause your blood vessels to weaken and bulge, forming an aneurysm which is life-threatening.


  • Heart failure, to pump blood against the higher pressure in your vessels, the heart will need to work harder. This causes the walls of the heart's pumping chamber to thicken (left ventricular hypertrophy). Eventually, the thickened muscle may have a hard time pumping enough blood to meet your body's needs, which may eventually lead to heart failure.


  • Weakened and narrowed blood vessels in your kidneys, this can prevent these organs from functioning normally.


  • Thickened, narrowed or torn blood vessels in the eyes, this can result in vision loss.


  • Metabolic syndrome, a cluster of disorders of your body's metabolism, including increased waist circumference; high triglycerides; low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the "good" cholesterol; high blood pressure and high insulin levels. These conditions make you more likely to develop diabetes, heart disease and stroke.


  • Trouble with memory or understanding, uncontrolled high blood pressure may also affect your ability to think, remember and learn. Trouble with memory or understanding concepts is more common in people with high blood pressure.


  • Dementia, narrowed or blocked arteries can limit blood flow to the brain, leading to a certain type of dementia (vascular dementia). A stroke that interrupts blood flow to the brain also can cause vascular dementia.

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