High Blood Pressure

Is this your symptom?

  • Systolic blood pressure greater than 130 or
  • Diastolic blood pressure greater than 80 or
  • Taking medicine for high blood pressure

Some Basics...

  • Blood pressure (BP) measures the force of blood pumped by the heart on arteries. Arteries are blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart to the body. High BP can cause damage to body organs.
  • Readings from home BP measurement devices are not always right. BP should be checked in both arms. Check another adult's BP to see if the device is working. If it is still not clear that the machine is working, have BP checked by a doctor.
  • If hypertension is not treated, it may cause heart, brain, kidney, or eye problems. Treating high BP can decrease the risk of stroke, heart attack, and heart failure.

Treatment

Your doctor or other healthcare provider will work with you to develop a treatment plan.

  • A healthy lifestyle can help lower high blood pressure.
  • Your doctor may prescribe a blood pressure medicine. This will depend on how high your blood pressure is and whether healthy lifestyle changes help. There are many different types of blood pressure medicines.

How do I know if I have hypertension?

Hypertension and high blood pressure mean the same thing. An adult has hypertension if most of his or her BP readings are greater than 130/80. This means that the systolic BP is over 130 or the diastolic BP is over 80.

What do the words "systolic" and "diastolic" mean?

The BP reading is written as two numbers. The two numbers are the systolic pressure and the diastolic pressure. If a person has a BP of 130/65, then 130 is the systolic BP and 65 is the diastolic BP. Systolic pressure is the BP when the heart beats. Diastolic pressure is the BP when the heart is resting between beats.

How is blood pressure classified?

  • Normal: systolic less than 120 mmHg and diastolic less than 80 mmHg
  • Elevated blood pressure: systolic between 120 and 129 and diastolic less than 80
  • Hypertension - Stage 1: systolic between 130 and 139 and diastolic between 80-89
  • Hypertension - Stage 2: systolic 140 or higher OR diastolic 90 or higher

My doctor has given me blood pressure medicine. What should my blood pressure be? What is the target blood pressure

The treatment goal is under 130/80 for most people. The goal may be higher in the elderly and based on other factors.

When to Call for High Blood Pressure

Call 911 Now

  • You think you are having a stroke or a heart attack
  • Trouble waking up or acting confused
  • You think you have a life-threatening emergency

Call Doctor Now or Go to ER

  • Your BP is over 200/120
  • You feel weak or very sick
  • You think you need to be seen, and the problem is urgent

Call Doctor Within 24 Hours

  • Your BP is over 180/110 and you are feeling fine
  • You ran out of BP medications
  • Taking BP medications and you think you are having side effects (impotence, cough, feeling dizzy)
  • You think you need to be seen, but the problem is not urgent

Call Doctor During Office Hours

  • Your BP is over 140/90 and you are feeling fine
  • Your BP is over 130/80 and you have any heart problems, kidney disease, or diabetes
  • Your BP is over 130/80 and you are pregnant
  • Your BP is still over 130/80 and after one month of lifestyle changes (see Care Advice)
  • You have other questions or concerns

Self Care at Home

  • Your BP is between 120-129/80 (elevated) and you are feeling fine
  • Your BP is less than 120/80 (normal BP)

Care Advice

High Blood Pressure (BP)

  1. What You Should Know:
    • If you do not treat high BP, it may cause heart, brain, kidney, or eye problems. Treating high BP can decrease the risk of stroke, heart attack, and heart failure.
    • Healthy living habits can help you to lower your BP.
    • For most people with hypertension, the goal is to keep their BP under 130/80.
    • Here is some care advice that should help.
  2. BP is less than 120/80:
    • This is normal blood pressure.
  3. BP is 120-129/80:
    • This is considered elevated blood pressure. It is also called pre-hypertension.
    • Sometimes, changes in your lifestyle can decrease your BP without medicine.
    • If your BP stays high during the next month, have it checked by a doctor.
  4. BP is over 130/80:
    • This is hypertension.
    • Your doctor or other healthcare provider will work with you to develop a treatment plan. You may need to make some changes in your lifestyle, be treated with medicines, or both.
  5. Lifestyle Changes: These can help you decrease your blood pressure.
    • Stay at a healthy weight. Lose weight if you are overweight.
    • Do 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week. This can include doing aerobics, running, or taking a brisk walk.
    • Eat a diet high in fresh fruits and low-fat dairy products. Limit your intake of saturated and total fat. Choose foods that are lower in salt.
    • If you smoke, you should stop.
    • You should limit your daily drinking of alcohol. Women should have no more than one drink per day. Men should have no more than 2 drinks per day. A drink is 1.5 oz hard liquor (one shot; 45 ml), 4 oz wine (small glass; 120 ml), or 12 oz. beer (one can; 360 ml).
  6. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Headache, blurry eyesight, or trouble talking or walking
    • Chest pain or trouble breathing
    • You want to go in to the office for a BP check
    • You think you need to be seen
    • You get worse

Missed Dose of Blood Pressure (BP) Medication

  1. What to Do When You Miss a Dose of Your BP Medication:
    • Generally, you should take a missed dose as soon as you remember.
    • If it is more than 8 hours until your next dose, take the missed dose of medication now.
    • If it is less than 8 hours until your next dose, skip the missed dose. Then take the medicine at the next regularly scheduled time.
    • Do NOT take 2 doses if a blood pressure medication at the same time because you missed a dose.
  2. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Headache, blurry eyesight, or trouble talking or walking
    • Chest pain or trouble breathing
    • You want to go in to the office for a BP check
    • You think you need to be seen
    • You get worse

Internet Resource - National High Blood Pressure Education Program

And remember, contact your doctor if you develop any of the 'Call Your Doctor' symptoms.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.


Last Reviewed: 12/16/2017 1:00:28 AM
Last Updated: 12/10/2017 1:31:54 AM

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