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Amy is a Board Certified Family Health Nurse Practitioner (FNP) with over 15 years of experience working in Hospital Medicine, Urgent Care and Primary Care practices. Amy graduated Thomas Jefferson University with high distinction earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2008, a Master of Science in Nursing in 2010 and a Post Master's Certificate in Adult Gerontology Acute Care (AGAC) in 2014. She was recognized by the Elite American Nurses Association in 2013 for her dedication, achievements and leadership in the field Nursing. She served as a clinical preceptor for a number of Nurse Practitioner students and enjoys teaching the bright minds of future NPs.
Hypertension is a common medical problem that many of us might experience without even realizing it. According to studies and surveys, almost half of the population in the United States has hypertension. Only 1 in 5 adults with this condition are recommended to change their lifestyle in order to deal with it and reduce symptoms.
Another term for hypertension that you might be familiar with is high blood pressure. We will go through everything you need to know about this condition, its causes, symptoms, and the four stages you go through.
Table of Contents
- What Is Hypertension?
- Causes of Hypertension
- The 4 Stages of Hypertension
- Worried About Hypertension?
- Key Takeaways
What Is Hypertension?
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, happens when the blood in your body is flowing through your arteries at a higher pressure than it should be. Both how hard your heart needs to work to function and the resistance of your blood vessels have an impact on pressure.
High blood pressure has the potential to lead to a variety of serious health concerns and complications. It puts you at higher risk of developing things like heart disease, heart failure, stroke, and even kidney disease.
Many people can have hypertension and not even know about it until symptoms become worse. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), symptoms of hypertension include the following:
- Chest pain
- Buzzing in the ears
- Abnormal heart rhythm
- Vision changes
- Blurred vision
- Difficult breathing
- Severe headaches
Many of these symptoms are not noticeable until you reach the later stages. However, if you are experiencing a number of these, you should go to a doctor immediately and get your blood pressure checked. This is quick and painless and will allow you to start taking steps to improve your life. Very high blood pressure is 180/120, and normal blood pressure is anywhere between 90/60 and 120/80.
Please note: blood pressure lower than 90/60 is considered hypotension (low blood pressure). This comes with its own set of health issues and risk factors.
Causes of Hypertension
There is no one cause of hypertension, but there are a number of things that will put you at an increased risk of developing it. While most risk factors are things that you have control over, others might not be. Here are the risk factors for developing high blood pressure, according to the World Health Organization:
- High salt intake
- Older age
- Too much alcohol consumption
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Being obese or overweight
In most cases, you can lower your high blood pressure by making lifestyle changes. Common lifestyle changes include the following options:
- Stop smoking tobacco
- Lose weight
- Eat a lower-salt diet
- Have an overall healthy diet and avoid saturated fats
- Be more physically active
The 4 Stages of Hypertension
The “Normal” Stage
The first stage of hypertension is actually the “normal” stage, where your blood pressure is in a healthy range. For most people, this is around 120/80 but can be as low as 90/60. However, as long as your systolic blood pressure is less than 130 mm Hg and your diastolic is less than 80 mm Hg, you are fine.
No treatment is required at this stage. However, it will always be recommended for the individual to monitor their blood pressure. It would also be beneficial to, at this point, think of ways to bring your blood pressure down, rather than allow it to continue getting higher.
The second stage of hypertension is what is known as “prehypertension”. Here, your systolic will be somewhere between 130–139 mm Hg, and your diastolic between 80–89 mm Hg. This is the stage before someone crosses the line to hypertension.
At this stage, hypertension can still be avoided. In order for this to happen, lifestyle changes must be made to bring it down. During this time, the person is beginning to be at risk of experiencing a stroke or heart disease.
It is crucial for steps to be taken at this point, but no medication will likely be used at this point.
Stage three is in fact “stage 1”. This is when your systolic is between 140–149 mm Hg and your diastolic is between 90-99 mm Hg. At this stage, the individual is now at risk of developing a variety of health complications, including the ones mentioned above.
Medication is likely to be prescribed to help deal with the issue and for blood pressure to be reduced. Doing this will lower the risk of a stroke, heart disease, and various other potential dangers.
Medications that may be used to treat hypertension include the following:
- Angiotensin receptor blockers
- ACE inhibitors
- Calcium channel blockers
- Thiazide diuretics
The individual will also be expected to put work into making various lifestyle changes to improve their condition.
The final stage, which is simply called “stage 2”, is when your systolic is between 160–169 mm Hg and your diastolic is anything higher than 100 mm Hg. Hypertension will be classed as severe at this point, and two-drug therapy is likely to be recommended.
Coronary heart disease is a huge risk at this stage, which can then lead to a stroke or a heart attack. Lifestyle changes such as improving your diet, exercising regularly, and cutting back on smoking and drinking would be crucial.
Worried About Hypertension?
If you are worried about high blood pressure, we recommend going to get your pressure checked. The process is quick and harmless, and you can get answers on the stop to start making lifestyle changes.
Depending on the outcome of the checkup, you will be able to do what you need to do and live a long and happy life.
How Can DrHouse Help You?
DrHouse offers a fast and reliable telehealth platform where you can connect with an online doctor when you need it. Our licensed physicians are available 24/7 for diagnosis and treatment of various conditions.
We understand that our patients want the best care possible, and that is why we strive to provide them with quality healthcare services through our secure platform. So if you’re worried about hypertension, don’t hesitate to download our telehealth app and get the help you need.
Hypertension is more common than you think, and it is possible that you have it now and don’t even know it. While the first two stages of hypertension are not anything to worry about, they offer the perfect opportunity to start living a healthy life to ensure that you remain happy and healthy.
It is crucial for you to take action in the second two stages, as there is a very real danger. Take control of your life and make the necessary changes, and you will see an immense benefit.
- Hypertension. World Health Organization (WHO). Available from: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/hypertension
- Estimated Hypertension Prevalence, Treatment, and Control Among U.S. Adults. Million Hearts. Available from: https://millionhearts.hhs.gov/data-reports/hypertension-prevalence.html
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