High Blood Pressure Overview


It is estimated that around 1.3 billion people worldwide suffer from high blood pressure, and almost half of the adults are unaware that they have this disease.1 This happens mainly because high blood pressure is mostly asymptomatic or rarely shows noticeable symptoms.2 It is, then, very important to be aware of the signs and to know how to prevent it, since this disease increases the risk of heart attack, strokes, and kidney disease, which is related to several other illnesses.1,2

What is considered high blood pressure?

Blood pressure consists of 2 number that shows the force with which your heart pumps blood to your body (higher number – systolic blood pressure) and the resistance of the wall’s arteries to the blood flow (lower number – diastolic blood pressure).2,3

When the force of this blood flowing is consistently high there is when a diagnosis of high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is made.4 A blood pressure level lower than 120/80 mmHg (millimeters of mercury, unit of measure) is considered normal. Values above this are considered abnormal.

Values between 120-139 (systolic) and 80-89 (diastolic) are considered at risk (pre-hypertension. Values from 140 to above (systolic) and 90 to above (diastolic) are already considered high blood pressure. Some professionals and guidelines considered values above 130/90 mmHg already as hypertension.5

 As we told you before, high blood pressure is a silent disease, and of the almost 1.3 billion people suffering from it, only half of the adults are aware of having it. It is even worse to think that only 20% of these adults have their blood pressure levels under control, which means that only 42% of the people with hypertension worldwide are diagnosed and treated.1


Most of the time, there are no symptoms, even if the blood pressure levels are very high. However, some people might present some signs like

  1. Headaches
  2. Nosebleed
  3. Breathlessness

These are very unspecific symptoms, which might be related to other diseases and that do not tend to appear until the high blood pressure has achieved a dangerous stage.3


There are two types of hypertension, which is:

  1. Primary hypertension – also known as essential hypertension, this type of high blood pressure doesn’t have a clear cause, and it is more related to the risk factors. It generally develops over the years.
  2. Secondary hypertension – this type is related to some other condition the person might present and generally appears suddenly and with very high blood pressure levels. It can be related to thyroid dysfunction, kidney diseases, adrenal tumors, sleep apnoea, drug abuse, medications, and congenital defects in the arteries of the body.3

Risk factors

The risk factors that increase the risks of developing essential high blood pressure are:2,3,6

  1. Age above 65
  2. Overweight or obesity
  3. Lack of physical activity
  4. Smoking
  5. High alcohol and caffeine consumption
  6. Diet with much salt, low potassium and low amount of fibres
  7. Family history of hypertension
  8. Disturbed sleep
  9. High-stress levels
  10. Black descendants

You can reduce your risk of high blood pressure by making a few changes to your lifestyle

The following lifestyle factors have the greatest impact on your risk of high blood pressure. We will also look at what you can do to reduce your risk from today.6,7,8,9


Salt can raise blood pressure levels, which is why it is important to have a diet with low salt. Also essential to keep a low-fat diet, full of fibre, adding fruits and vegetables to your meals, which helps to lower blood pressure. Also, eating enough potassium from bananas, beans, and potatoes, can balance the sodium from the salt.

Physical activity

Regular exercise keeps your heart and blood vessels in good condition helping to prevent high blood pressure. It can also help maintain a healthy weight, reducing the risk caused by being overweight and obese. Starting some moderate-intensity activity and reaching 150 minutes per week can help reduce blood pressure.


Having extra weight forces your heart to pump harder to keep the blood flow in your body. This makes the pressure in the walls of the blood vessels go high, which keeps increasing over time. Losing even a small amount of weight can already help a lot. Also, obesity is related to sleep apnoea, which is another risk factor for developing hypertension.


High alcohol consumption increases blood pressure, and the amount should be limited to one unit for women and two units for men a day maximum. Studies show that reducing alcohol reduces blood pressure in a dose-dependent manner and can cause a significant reduction of blood pressure in especially in heavy drinkers.


Recurrent dehydration can increase blood pressure. When dehydrated, sodium levels in the blood can be high, which sends a message to the brain to retain water through a hormone called vasopressin, which in high doses can cause vasoconstriction of the blood vessels causing blood pressure to go high.


Disturbed sleep patterns, with a reduced amount of night sleep per night, can cause hypertension in the long term. Different issues can disrupt sleep, including sleep apnea. Having a good sleep routine with at least 6 hours can help reduce the risk.

Mental health

Long-term high levels of stress can contribute to increasing the levels of blood pressure. It is very important to try to reduce the mental pressure caused by daily problems and treat them accordingly, never trying too much, taking time to relax, and avoiding triggers.


Keeping your emotional health balanced is necessary for your physical health. Self-care is important for overall good health. Doing things for pleasure and for yourself are important things to keep your well-being, sometimes in the rush of daily life, it is easy to forget about it, but so important as your obligations are also your leisure.


As we can see, high blood pressure is a disease characterised by the high pressure of the blood flow in the blood vessels that can lead to several diseases, like heart conditions, stroke, and kidney disease. There are several risk factors for a person to develop hypertension. However, most of the risk factors can be modified, and hypertension is preventable and can be avoided with simple lifestyle changes.

Diagnostic testing

At Klarity, we use the latest technology for diagnostic testing. Our home blood tests give you health insights and personalised recommendations. Find out which test you should take.


  1. Hypertension [Internet]. [cited 2022 Aug 8]. Available from: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/hypertension
  2. High blood pressure (Hypertension) [Internet]. nhs.uk. 2017 [cited 2022 Aug 8]. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/high-blood-pressure-hypertension/
  3. High blood pressure (Hypertension) - Symptoms and causes [Internet]. Mayo Clinic. [cited 2022 Aug 8]. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/symptoms-causes/syc-20373410
  4. The facts about high blood pressure [Internet]. www.heart.org. [cited 2022 Aug 8]. Available from: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/the-facts-about-high-blood-pressure
  5. CDC. High blood pressure symptoms, causes, and problems | cdc. Gov [Internet]. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2021 [cited 2022 Aug 8]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/about.htm
  6. CDC. Know your risk for high blood pressure | cdc. Gov [Internet]. 2020 [cited 2022 Aug 9]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/risk_factors.htm
  7. High blood pressure (Hypertension) - Prevention [Internet]. 2017 [cited 2022 Aug 9]. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/high-blood-pressure-hypertension/prevention/
  8. How to reduce your blood pressure: 6 top tips [Internet]. [cited 2022 Aug 9]. Available from: https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/heart-matters-magazine/research/blood-pressure/blood-pressure-tips
  9. 10 drug-free ways to control high blood pressure [Internet]. [cited 2022 Aug 9]. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/in-depth/high-blood-pressure/art-20046974

Renata Barbosa Rebuitti

Bachelor's Degree in Medicine,Federal University of Minas Gerais

Renata is a medical doctor passionate about her work and science. Currently exploring medical writing and medical communications. She loves to share information and scientific knowledge.

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