Hypertension, or high blood pressure, literally means more pressure within the arteries, the vessels which carry oxygenated blood away from the heart. Though high blood pressure does not imply emotional tension in any way, stress may elevate levels of blood pressure for short periods of time. Although high blood pressure has no immediate implications, a consistent increase in elevation of high blood pressure often leads to stroke, cardiovascular diseases, kidney or renal disease and eye damage.

Blood Pressure is measured with two numbers: systolic and diastolic.

  • Systolic – This number is on the top of the blood pressure measurement, and represents the pressure within your arteries as your heart pumps oxygenated blood forward and through your arteries to your muscles.
  • Diastolic – This number is on the bottom of the blood pressure measurement, and represents the pressure within your arteries as your heart relaxes. The diastolic number shows the least amount of pressure that your arteries are subjected to.

High Blood Pressure is classified by a systolic measurement of 140 or higher and a diastolic measurement of 90 or higher. Prehypertension, a warning stage of high blood pressure, is classified by a systolic measurement of 120 to 139 and a diastolic measurement of 80 to 89. Normal blood pressure for adults is below the systolic measurement of 120 and additionally below the diastolic measurement of 80.

Symptoms of Hypertension

The symptoms of high blood pressure, providing that there are no immediate health complications are often minimal. Without regular blood pressure screening, hypertension may go unnoticed for several years, until it escalates to cause a stroke or heart attack.

Some people do experience symptoms to indicate high blood pressure, including dizziness, headaches, shortness of breath and blurred vision. Most people first learn that they have high blood pressure when they visit their physician.

Risk Factors of Hypertension

High Blood Pressure is caused by numerous factors, and even your doctor cannot pinpoint every single one. Common factors that contribute to hypertension include an abnormally high salt intake, aging, obesity, excessive intake of alcohol, lack of exercise and kidney failure, as well as a family history of hypertension. People of African –American descent are more likely to develop hypertension. Although hypertension is caused by various factors, some of them can be controlled with lifestyle changes.

Positive lifestyle changes that can help to lower your blood pressure include:

  • Incorporating exercise into your lifestyle
  • Decrease the salt in your diet
  • Lower your alcohol intake to a maximum of two drinks per day
  • Eat a well balanced diet that includes sufficient amounts of potassium, magnesium and calcium

Certain factors that contribute to hypertension cannot be controlled. Aging and family history, for instance, are not within any person’s’ power to change.

Hypertension Diagnosis

Many people are diagnosed with high blood pressure during their routine doctor’s appointment. Hypertension is confirmed with three blood pressure measurements higher than 140/90 mm Hg, which are all taken within one to two weeks. Hypertension is rarely diagnosed from one blood pressure measurement.

If your blood pressure measurements are suspected to be inaccurate, your doctor may instruct you to take a blood pressure measurement at home. This is to ensure that you are not experiencing white-coat high blood pressure, a condition where your blood pressure increases solely because you are at the doctor’s office.

How is High Blood Pressure Treated?

Treatments of High Blood Pressure vary in accordance to the severity of your hypertension. Your doctor will base his treatment plan around the measurement of your blood pressure, your current lifestyle, and any other medical issues you might have, including diabetes and organ damage.

Treatment of prehypertension (a systolic measurement of 120 to 139 and a diastolic measurement of 80 to 89) may include lifestyle changes such as incorporating exercise into your daily routine, losing excess weight, reducing salt and alcohol intake as well as eating a low-fat diet.

If you have high blood pressure (systolic measurement of 140 or higher and a diastolic measurement of 90 or higher) and you do not have any health complications including organ damage or other risk factors for heart disease, your doctor may recommend medications in addition to lifestyle changes.

Treatment of hypertension with added complications of organ damage and extensive risk of heart disease requires much attention; your doctor is likely to prescribe multiple medications as well as some large lifestyle changes.

Medications for High Blood Pressure

Doctors usually prescribe a single, low-dose medication first, which may be later changed or increased depending on the effectiveness of the medication. Trying several medications before your blood pressure is successfully controlled is extremely common and many people additionally need more than one medication to get the best results. Most high blood pressure medications are slow-working; it may take a few weeks before you experience any change in your blood pressure.

Medication Choices

Diuretics – medication commonly used to prevent strokes and heart attacks

  • Aldactone Spironolactone
  • Lasix Furosemide
  • Hctz Hydrochlorothiazide

Beta-Blockers – prevent heart attacks and strokes specifically in people under the age of sixty

  • Sectral acebutolol
  • Coreg carvedilol
  • Tenormin atenolol
  • Kerlone betaxolol Normodyne, Trandate labetalol
  • opressor, Toprol XL metoprolol
  • Corgard nadolol
  • Levatol penbutolol
  • Visken pindolol
  • Inderal propranolol
  • Blocadren timolol

ACE inhibitors” – commonly used to treat hypertension, recommended for those with kidney disease and diabetes, as well as prevent heart attack and stroke

  • Lotensin Benazepril
  • Altace Ramipril
  • Aceon Perindopr
  • Capoten Captopril
  • Vasotec Enalapril
  • Monopril Fosinopril
  • Prinivil, Zestril Lisinopril
  • Mavik Trandolapril
  • Accupril Quinapril

Calcium Channel Blockers – medications that prevent heart attacks and strokes

  • Cardizem SR, Dilacor XR, Tiazac Diltiazem
  • Lotrel Amlodipine and Benazepril Hydrochloride
  • Plendil Felodipine
  • Lexxel Enalapril Maleate-felodipine ER
  • DynaCirc Isradipine
  • Cardene Nicardipine
  • Adalat, Procardia XL Nifedipine
  • Sular Nisoldipine
  • Calan SR, Isoptin SR Verapamil
  • Norvasc Amlodipine

Angiotensin Receptor Blockers – medications designed to prevent heart attacks and strokes, which are recommended for people with diabetes or kidney disease

  • Cozaar, Hyzaar Losartan
  • Diovan Valsartan
  • Avapro Irbesartan
  • Atacand Vandesartan Cilexetil
  • Benicar Olmesartan
  • Teveten Eprosartan Mesylate
  • Micardis Telmisartan

Your doctor will likely prescribe your High Blood Pressure medication(s) indefinitely, and it is important to continue to take them, even if you feel better. Hypertension medications are often prescribed to be taken at the same time every day, so placing them next to a fixated item within your daily routine will help you to remember to take them. High blood pressure medications rarely have any effect on how you feel during the day; if you experience extreme side effects it is recommended that you speak to you doctor of pharmacist.