High blood pressure, called hypertension, is a common condition that 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. Narrow arteries increase resistance. The narrower your arteries are, the higher your blood pressure will be. Over the long term, increased pressure can cause health issues, including heart disease. Many people won’t experience any symptoms. It may take years or even decades to reach levels severe enough that symptoms become obvious.
Types of High Blood Pressure:
- Primary (essential) hypertension. This type of high blood pressure tends to develop gradually over many years.
- Secondary hypertension. This type of high blood pressure tends to appear suddenly and cause higher blood pressure than does primary hypertension. Conditions and medication that can lead to secondary hypertension may include sleep apnea, thyroid problems, kidney problems, certain medications such as birth control pills, decongestants, over the counter and some prescription drugs, and illegal drugs.
- Age. The risk of high blood pressure increases as you age. Normally about 64 in men, and after 65 for women.
- Race. High blood pressure is particularly common among people of African heritage, often developing at an early age than it does in whites.
- Family History. High blood pressure tends to run in families.
- Being overweight or obese. The more you weigh the more blood you need to supply oxygen and nutrients to your tissues.
- Inactivity. The higher your heart rate, the harder your heart must work with each contraction and the stronger the force to your arteries.
- Using tobacco. Smoking or chewing tobacco can not only raise blood pressure, but the chemicals in tobacco can also damage the lining of artery walls.
- Too much salt (sodium). This can cause your body to retain fluid, which increases bloods pressure.
- Stress. Too much stress can lead to increase in blood pressure. Try to relax and use relation techniques.
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. If you have a family history of heart disease or risk factors, your doctor may recommend that you have your blood pressure checked twice a year.