High blood pressure, known by physicians as hypertension, affects about one out of every three Americans (Douglas et al., 2003). Several severe medical conditions can be caused by high blood pressure (Somers et al., 2008). The good news is that there are drugs and improvements in lifestyles that help treat blood pressure issues (Fletcher et al., 2015). When blood pressure is brought under control, damage to the body slows down or ceases (KETY & SCHMIDT, 1946).
Tissues and organs require oxygenated blood to survive and function properly (Ko et al., 2000). Therefore, the heart needs to pump the blood to the tissues and organs. When the heartbeats, it causes pressure, driving blood into a network of tube-shaped blood vessels that includes lungs, veins, and capillaries (Gordon, 2019). This pressure is called blood pressure. The first force, known as systolic pressure, happens as blood flows from the heart into the arteries that are part of the circulatory system (O’Rourke, 1990). As the heart rests between heartbeats, the second force called diastolic pressure is created (Shapiro et al., 1972). In a reading of blood pressure, these two forces are represented by numbers.
Under such parameters, the smaller the reading of the blood pressure, the better. As long as none of the signs of trouble are present, there is also no particular amount at which daily blood pressure is considered too low. Low blood pressure may sound desirable, and it does not cause any issues for specific individuals. However, abnormally low blood pressure can trigger dizziness and fainting for several individuals (Wessely et al., 1990). Low blood pressure can be life-threatening in extreme cases. Low blood pressure is usually considered to be a blood pressure reading lower than 90 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) for the top number (systolic) and 60 mm Hg for the bottom number (diastolic) (Guo et al., 1997). Dehydration may be the cause of low blood pressure (González-Alonso et al., 1999).
What is high blood pressure?
The force of blood as it flows through the arteries of the body is called blood pressure (Guyton, 1991). The arteries are blood vessels that carry blood to the rest of the body from the heart. It pushes blood into the lungs through heartbeats. It exerts pressure on the artery walls as the blood flows. Hypertension is known as high blood pressure (Lurbe et al., 2016). It occurs when the blood flows at a higher pressure than usual across the arteries. Several different factors can trigger high blood pressure. It can cause health issues if the blood pressure gets too high or remains high for an extended period. It leads to a greater risk of stroke, heart disease, heart attack, and kidney failure from uncontrolled high blood pressure (Muntner et al., 2014). Generally, two forms of high blood pressure are present.
The first one is known as primary hypertension (Folkow, 1982). It has no apparent cause. It is the most common type of hypertension among people. Usually, it takes several years for primary hypertension to develop. It is possibly due to lifestyle, weather, and body changes during aging. The second one is known as secondary hypertension (Sinclair et al., 1987). The usage of medicine and drugs causes this type of hypertension (Haji Faraji & Haji Tarkhani, 1999). Other causes include kidney failures, sleep apnea, and thyroid gland failures (Charles et al., 2017; Pedrosa et al., 2011).
Symptoms of high blood pressure.
Usually, people who have high blood pressure do not know they have it (Rostrup et al., 1990). Therefore, it is essential to check blood pressure regularly. Some high blood pressure symptoms include headaches, trouble breathing, and nose bleeding (GARRO, 1988). However, these symptoms are noticeable only when the situation has worsened.
Causes of high blood pressure.
There are many causes of high blood pressure. The main one is an unhealthy eating habit. Foods that are salty and high in cholesterol are usually the leading cause of high blood pressure (Levy, 2019). Another common cause is genetic (Williams et al., 1991). If a person’s parent has hypertension, the person will also develop high blood pressure in the future. Aging is also a common cause of high blood pressure (Benetos et al., 1993). Obesity will also lead to hypertension (Montani et al., 2002). Moreover, stress is also known as one of the reasons for high blood pressure (Ayada et al., 2015). Lack of sleep can also cause hypertension (Palagini et al., 2013).
What determines high blood pressure?
A person has high blood pressure if he or she has a blood pressure reading that exceeds 120/80. In detail, pre-hypertension is categorized as 120/80 to 139/89. Stage 1 hypertension is known as 140/90 to 159/99. On the other hand, stage 2 hypertension is classified as 160/100 or higher. It is advisable to check the blood pressure once every two years for a healthy person (Flynn & Falkner, 2017).
How to prevent high blood pressure?
The easiest way to counter high blood pressure is by exercising regularly (Bacon et al., 2004). Smoking and drinking alcohol can contribute to high blood pressure (Whelton et al., 2002). Therefore, it is advisable not to smoke and drink beer. Lowering salt intake significantly reduces the risk of high blood pressure. Mediation can reduce stress, thus preventing high blood pressure (Rainforth et al., 2007).
What to do once I have high blood pressure?
Living with high blood pressure is not uncommon nowadays. Many people are diagnosed with high blood pressure in this modern age. However, one should not ignore if the person has high blood pressure. The easiest way to lower blood pressure starts with improvements a person can make to the lifestyle (Dickinson et al., 2006). This will help to lower the blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease. Besides, medication to lower the blood pressure can be recommended by a doctor. They are called pharmaceutical drugs for antihypertension (Rizzo, 1999). The drugs can control blood pressure, preventing stroke (Rashid et al., 2003). Usually, drugs are very effective at controlling high blood pressure (Roth & Brown, 2006).
It takes a lifetime of treatment to control high blood pressure. It cannot be cured. However, with proper care, one can still live a fulfilling and healthy life with high blood pressure. Due to its prevalence and potentially catastrophic effects, hypertension appears as an extremely significant clinical problem.
Ayada, C., Toru, & Korkut, Y. (2015). The relationship of stress and blood pressure effectors. Hippokratia, 19(2), 99–108.
Bacon, S. L., Sherwood, A., Hinderliter, A., & Blumenthal, J. A. (2004). Effects of exercise, diet and weight loss on high blood pressure. Sports Medicine, 34(5), 307–316. https://doi.org/10.2165/00007256-200434050-00003
Benetos, A., Laurent, S., Hoeks, A. P., Boutouyrie, P. H., & Safar, M. E. (1993). Arterial alterations with aging and high blood pressure. A noninvasive study of carotid and femoral arteries. Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, 13(1), 90–97. https://doi.org/10.1161/01.ATV.13.1.90
Charles, L., Triscott, J., & Dobbs, B. (2017). Secondary Hypertension: Discovering the Underlying Cause. American Family Physician, 96(7), 453–461.
Dickinson, H. O., Mason, J. M., Nicolson, D. J., Campbell, F., Beyer, F. R., Cook, J. V., Williams, B., & Ford, G. A. (2006). Lifestyle interventions to reduce raised blood pressure: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Journal of Hypertension, 24(2), 215–223. https://doi.org/10.1097/01.hjh.0000199800.72563.26
Douglas, J. G., Bakris, G. L., Epstein, M., Ferdinand, K. C., Ferrario, C., Flack, J. M., Jamerson, K. A., Jones, W. E., Haywood, J., Maxey, R., Ofili, E. O., Saunders, E., Schiffrin, E. L., Sica, D. A., Sowers, J. R., & Vidt, D. G. (2003). Management of high blood pressure in African Americans: Consensus statement of the hypertension in African Americans Working Group of the International Society on Hypertension in blacks. Archives of Internal Medicine, 163(5), 525–541. https://doi.org/10.1001/archinte.163.5.525
Fletcher, B. R., Hartmann-Boyce, J., Hinton, L., & Mcmanus, R. J. (2015). The effect of self-monitoring of blood pressure on medication adherence and lifestyle factors: A systematic review and meta-analysis. American Journal of Hypertension, 28(10), 1209–1221. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajh/hpv008
Flynn, J. T., & Falkner, B. E. (2017). New Clinical Practice Guideline for the Management of High Blood Pressure in Children and Adolescents. Hypertension (Dallas, Tex. : 1979), 70(4), 683–686. https://doi.org/10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.117.10050
Folkow, B. (1982). Physiological aspects of primary hypertension. Physiological Reviews, 62(2), 347–504. https://doi.org/10.1152/physrev.19188.8.131.527
GARRO, L. C. (1988). Explaining High Blood Pressure: Variation in Knowledge About Illness. American Ethnologist, 15(1), 98–119. https://doi.org/10.1525/ae.1988.15.1.02a00070
González-Alonso, J., Mora-Rodríguez, R., & Coyle, E. F. (1999). Supine exercise restores arterial blood pressure and skin blood flow despite dehydration and hyperthermia. American Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology, 277(2 46-2), H576--H583. https://doi.org/10.1152/ajpheart.1999.277.2.h576
Gordon, C. A. (2019). The person with a personality disorder. In Psychiatric and mental health nursing (pp. 293–306). Routledge. https://doi.org/10.1201/9781315381879-27
Guo, Z., Fratiglioni, L., Winblad, B., & Viitanen, M. (1997). Blood pressure and performance on the Mini-Mental State Examination in the very old: Cross-sectional and longitudinal data from the Kungsholmen project. American Journal of Epidemiology, 145(12), 1106–1113. https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordjournals.aje.a009073
Guyton, A. C. (1991). Blood pressure control - Special role of the kidneys and body fluids. Science, 252(5014), 1813–1816. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.2063193
Haji Faraji, M., & Haji Tarkhani, A. H. (1999). The effect of sour tea (Hibiscus sabdariffa) on essential hypertension. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 65(3), 231–236. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0378-8741(98)00157-3
KETY, S. S., & SCHMIDT, C. F. (1946). The effects of active and passive hyperventilation on cerebral blood flow, cerebral oxygen consumption, cardiac output, and blood pressure of normal young men. The Journal of Clinical Investigation, 25(1), 107–119. https://doi.org/10.1172/JCI101680
Ko, W. J., Chen, Y. S., Tsai, P. R., & Lee, P. H. (2000). Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation support of donor abdominal organs in non-heart-beating donors. Clinical Transplantation, 14(2), 152–156. https://doi.org/10.1034/j.1399-0012.2000.140209.x
Levy, B. (2019). Salt and high blood pressure: Any more questions? Sang Thrombose Vaisseaux, 31(6), 235–242. https://doi.org/10.1684/stv.2019.1092
Lurbe, E., Agabiti-Rosei, E., Cruickshank, J. K., Dominiczak, A., Erdine, S., Hirth, A., Invitti, C., Litwin, M., Mancia, G., Pall, D., Rascher, W., Redon, J., Schaefer, F., Seeman, T., Sinha, M., Stabouli, S., Webb, N. J., Wühl, E., & Zanchetti, A. (2016). 2016 European Society ofHypertension guidelines for themanagement of high blood pressure in children and adolescents. Journal of Hypertension, 34(10), 1887–1920. https://doi.org/10.1097/HJH.0000000000001039
Montani, J. P., Antic, V., Yang, Z., & Dulloo, A. (2002). Pathways from obesity to hypertension: From the perspective of a vicious triangle. International Journal of Obesity, 26(2), S28–S38. https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.ijo.0802125
Muntner, P., Davis, B. R., Cushman, W. C., Bangalore, S., Calhoun, D. A., Pressel, S. L., Black, H. R., Kostis, J. B., Probstfield, J. L., Whelton, P. K., & Rahman, M. (2014). Treatment-resistant hypertension and the incidence of cardiovascular disease and end-stage renal disease results from the antihypertensive and lipid-lowering treatment to prevent heart attack trial (ALLHAT). Hypertension, 64(5), 1012–1021. https://doi.org/10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.114.03850
O’Rourke, M. (1990). Arterial stiffness, systolic blood pressure, and logical treatment of arterial hypertension. Hypertension, 15(4), 339–347. https://doi.org/10.1161/01.HYP.15.4.339
Palagini, L., Maria Bruno, R., Gemignani, A., Baglioni, C., Ghiadoni, L., & Riemann, D. (2013). Sleep Loss and Hypertension: A Systematic Review. Current Pharmaceutical Design, 19(13), 2409–2419. https://doi.org/10.2174/1381612811319130009
Pedrosa, R. P., Drager, L. F., Gonzaga, C. C., Sousa, M. G., De Paula, L. K. G., Amaro, A. C. S., Amodeo, C., Bortolotto, L. A., Krieger, E. M., Bradley, T. D., & Lorenzi-Filho, G. (2011). Obstructive sleep apnea: The most common secondary cause of hypertension associated with resistant hypertension. Hypertension, 58(5), 811–817. https://doi.org/10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.111.179788
Rainforth, M. V., Schneider, R. H., Nidich, S. I., Gaylord-King, C., Salerno, J. W., & Anderson, J. W. (2007). Stress reduction programs in patients with elevated blood pressure: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Current Hypertension Reports, 9(6), 520–528. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11906-007-0094-3
Rashid, P., Leonardi-Bee, J., & Bath, P. (2003). Blood Pressure Reduction and Secondary Prevention of Stroke and Other Vascular Events: A Systematic Review. Stroke, 34(11), 2741–2748. https://doi.org/10.1161/01.STR.0000092488.40085.15
Rizzo, J. A. (1999). Advertising and competition in the ethical pharmaceutical industry: The case of antihypertensive drugs. Journal of Law and Economics, 42(1), 89–116. https://doi.org/10.1086/467419
Rostrup, M., Kjeldsen, S. E., & Eide, I. K. (1990). Awareness of hypertension increases blood pressure and sympathetic responses to cold pressor test. American Journal of Hypertension, 3(12), 912–917. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajh/3.12.912
Roth, Z., & Brown, M. M. (2006). The seventh report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure: The JNC report. Evidence-Based Ophthalmology, 7(4), 170–171. https://doi.org/10.1097/01.ieb.0000212051.70761.83
Shapiro, D., Schwartz, G. E., & Tursky, B. (1972). Control of Diastolic Blood Pressure in Man by Feedback and Reinforcement. Psychophysiology, 9(3), 296–304. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-8986.1972.tb03213.x
Sinclair, A. M., Isles, C. G., Brown, I., Cameron, H., Murray, G. D., & Robertson, J. W. K. (1987). Secondary Hypertension in a Blood Pressure Clinic. Archives of Internal Medicine, 147(7), 1289–1293. https://doi.org/10.1001/archinte.1987.00370070103015
Somers, V. K., White, D. P., Amin, R., Abraham, W. T., Costa, F., Culebras, A., Daniels, S., Floras, J. S., Hunt, C. E., Olson, L. J., Pickering, T. G., Russell, R., Woo, M., & Young, T. (2008). Sleep Apnea and Cardiovascular Disease: An American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology Foundation scientific statement from the American Heart Association Council for High Blood Pressure Research Professional Education Committee, Council on . Circulation, 118(10), 1080–1111. https://doi.org/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.107.189420
Wessely, S., Nickson, J., & Cox, B. (1990). Symptoms of low blood pressure: A population study. British Medical Journal, 301(6748), 362–365. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.301.6748.362
Whelton, P. K., He, J., Appel, L. J., Cutler, J. A., Havas, S., Kotchen, T. A., Roccella, E. J., Stout, R., Vallbona, C., Winston, M. C., & Karimbakas, J. (2002). Primary prevention of hypertension: Clinical and public health advisory from the National High Blood Pressure Education Program. Journal of the American Medical Association, 288(15), 1882–1888. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.288.15.1882
Williams, R. R., Hunt, S. C., Hasstedt, S. J., Hopkins, P. N., Wu, L. L., Berry, T. D., Stults, B. M., Barlow, G. K., Catherine Schumacher, M., Lifton, R. P., & Lalouel, J. M. (1991). Are there interactions and relations between genetic and environmental factors predisposing to high blood pressure? Hypertension, 18(3), I-29-I–37. https://doi.org/10.1161/01.hyp.18.3_suppl.i29
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Michael