High Blood Pressure: At a Glance
High blood pressure (hypertension) is abnormally high pressure in the arteries.
High blood pressure occurs more often in older people—in about two thirds of people aged 65 or older, compared with only about one fourth of people aged 20 to 74. High blood pressure, particularly in younger people, may be caused by another disorder (called secondary hypertension).
See also High Blood Pressure Basics.
In people who have inherited a tendency to have high blood pressure, factors that lead to development include
Stress tends to cause blood pressure to increase temporarily, but blood pressure usually returns to normal once the stress is over.
High blood pressure has been called the silent killer because it usually causes no symptoms for many years—until a vital organ is damaged. Arteries throughout the body may already be damaged before high blood pressure is diagnosed, so people should have their blood pressure measured regularly to detect high blood pressure early.
Measuring Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is classified by its severity. When a person's systolic and diastolic pressures fall into different categories, the higher category is used to classify blood pressure.
The optimal blood pressure for minimizing the risk of cardiovascular problems (such as heart attack and heart failure) and stroke is
People with high blood pressure can do the following:
Many antihypertensive drugs can be used to help control high blood pressure. High blood pressure can be controlled in almost anyone, but treatment has to be tailored to the individual.