High Blood Pressure FAQ

How do you feel when your blood pressure is high?

You usually feel fine even when your blood pressure is high (hypertension) because there are rarely any associated symptoms or warning signs (which cannot be generalized to all individuals). Even so, you might once in a while encounter nosebleeds, breathlessness, palpitations (irregular heartbeat), flushing (red or pinkish hue on the skin), dizziness, chest pain, and headaches. 

Hypertension typically develops gradually and without any apparent signs. This is one of the key justifications for the term "silent killer" for high blood pressure.

In the UK, it is the third-largest risk factor for a lot of other non-communicable diseases like stroke, heart disease, and kidney disease. Over 5.5 million people in England are living with undetected high blood pressure as a result of its silent nature.1

My blood pressure is 140/90; what should I do?

The NHS identified that a blood pressure reading of 140/90 or more (after measurements taken while standing and using both arms) is considered high and that you should seek medical care.

Regular blood pressure readings range from 90/60 mm Hg to 120/90 mm Hg. In the blood pressure measuring device or sphygmomanometer, the top value represents your systolic blood pressure (force at which your heart pumps blood), and the second value (or the lower value) represents your diastolic blood pressure (when your heart relaxes between the beats). An increase in systolic and diastolic blood pressure of up to 20 and 10 mm Hg, respectively, doubles the chance of dying from a heart attack, stroke, or other cardiovascular events.2

According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), hypertension is defined as a clinic blood pressure of 140/90 mmHg or above. Any measurement higher than normal blood pressure (defined as values between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg) is an indication for BP monitoring. 

For a precise diagnosis and to rule out white coat hypertension (increase in BP due to anxiety at a clinic), it is crucial to constantly monitor the blood pressure. 

What triggers high blood pressure?

Due to extensive research over the years, some of the potential triggers of high blood pressure have been identified. There are many non-modifiable risk factors for hypertension, which include age, gender, ethnicity, low socioeconomic status (people who were uneducated/ less educated and low income) and genetic predisposition. 

Meanwhile, the known modifiable factors are excessive salt intake, obesity, excess consumption of alcohol and caffeinated beverages, smoking, poor eating habits, and insulin resistance.3

Based on the causes, hypertension can be broadly divided into two types: Primary (Essential/idiopathic) hypertension develops due to an unknown underlying cause or an unidentified medical condition. Secondary hypertension is the medical term for high blood pressure that develops due to another illness or disease.

What time of day is blood pressure highest?

Blood pressure rises early in the morning and at noon, with the highest readings occurring between these hours.4 The peak also coincides with the time when the majority of cardiovascular events take place.5 

Changes in blood pressure at different times of the day are normal. Generally, the blood pressure increases from when you wake up until around noon, when it hits its peak, and then it gradually starts to decline, reaching its lowest point during sleep. It drops by 10 to 20 mm Hg while you sleep and quickly rises when you wake up and get out of bed.4

One’s blood pressure readings may differ at different points in time due to stress, temperature, physical activity, medications, and other factors. Minor variations are typical, but significant variations during the day may require medical attention.

What is the biggest cause of high blood pressure?

There are several common causes of hypertension. A diet high in salt and fat, reduced physical activity, high-stress levels, obesity, cigarette smoking, and genetics are all key contributors to the occurrence of high blood pressure.

How can I instantly lower my blood pressure?

 Deep breathing has been shown to lower blood pressure. However, there are no immediate remedies for treating (full cure) high blood pressure because it is a chronic condition. Instead of looking for quick remedies, creating long-term healthy lifestyle adjustments could help lower the blood pressure to a normal range.

Can high blood pressure be cured?

High blood pressure is a chronic disease that cannot be fully cured but can be managed with appropriate lifestyle modifications and, if required, regular medications. Even if you are not trying to find a quick fix for your high blood pressure, it is always a good idea to adhere to effective management strategies so that you can avert the morbidity and mortality linked with hypertension.

What are the most common treatments for high blood pressure?

Healthy lifestyle changes like a heart-healthy diet and exercise, with or without medication (depending on the severity of the illness), are some of the most common treatments for high blood pressure. 

For instance, there is a recommended regimen known as the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet which involves eating foods rich in vitamins and minerals and cutting back on salt and trans fats. Lifestyle modification also includes quitting smoking, reducing alcohol consumption, regular physical activity, managing stress, and getting enough sleep (at least 6 hours).6, 7

Your primary care physician might prescribe anti-hypertensive medications if lifestyle changes alone are insufficient to control the blood pressure. Several medications, including calcium channel blockers, alpha and beta blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin-2 receptor blockers (ARBs), diuretics, and others, reduce blood pressure through various mechanisms. Your doctor will recommend the best medication(s) for you.

What hormones cause high blood pressure?

The endocrine system’s hormones help to regulate numerous biological functions, including blood pressure. Some of the hormones which affect blood pressure include cortisol, aldosterone, epinephrine (adrenaline), norepinephrine (noradrenaline), thyroid and parathyroid hormones, and insulin.8 

High levels of these hormones and insulin resistance all contribute to an increase in blood pressure.8

What happens if you have high blood pressure at a young age?

High blood pressure is referred to as a "silent killer” because it can be deadly at any age due to its ability to damage vital organs. It is generally linked to cardiovascular problems, brain damage, stroke, and renal disorders. Chronic hypertension also increases the risk of subclinical end-organ damage (heart, kidney, brain and eyes).

References

  1. Public Health England. Health matters: combating high blood pressure [Internet]. GOV.UK. 2017. Available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/health-matters-combating-high-blood-pressure/health-matters-combating-high-blood-pressure
  2. Tello M. New high blood pressure guidelines: Think your blood pressure is fine? Think again… - Harvard Health Blog [Internet]. Harvard Health Blog. 2019. Available from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/new-high-blood-pressure-guidelines-2017111712756
  3. Carretero OA, Oparil S. Essential hypertension. Part I: definition and aetiology. Circulation [Internet]. 2000 Jan 25;101(3):329–35. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10645931
  4. Ogedegbe G, Pickering T. Principles and Techniques of Blood Pressure Measurement. Cardiology Clinics [Internet]. 2010 Nov;28(4):571–86. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3639494/
  5. Muller JE, Kaufmann PG, Luepker RV, Weisfeldt ML, Deedwania PC, Willerson JT. Mechanisms Precipitating Acute Cardiac Events. Circulation. 1997 Nov 4;96(9):3233–9.
  6. High Blood Pressure - Treatment | NHLBI, NIH [Internet]. www.nhlbi.nih.gov. Available from: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/high-blood-pressure/treatment
  7. World Health Organisation. Hypertension [Internet]. Who.int. World Health Organisation: WHO; 2021. Available from: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/hypertension
  8. Endocrine Related Hypertension [Internet]. www.endocrine.org. Available from: https://www.endocrine.org/patient-engagement/endocrine-library/endocrine-related-hypertension

Sidra Irfan

Bachelors of Dental Surgery, Dentistry, Lahore Medical & Dental College, Pakistan

Sidra is a general dentist who enjoys writing in general but particularly enjoys compiling health tech innovation and patient awareness material. She is an equal healthcare access advocate who is currently engaged in research and public health. She also works as a medical, health, and wellness SEO content writer.

Klarity is a citizen-centric health data management platform that enables citizens to securely access, control and share their own health data. Klarity Health Library aims to provide clear and evidence-based health and wellness related informative articles.