Support & Resources

Find support from others coping with hypertension and its complications. Ask the experts your questions, and get more information from other web sites that can help.

Finding Help

Finding help for hypertension starts with this list.

Resources

Here are a dozen hypertension-related associations with more of the high blood pressure information you need.

This American Heart Association site wants to show you why you should care about high blood pressure, what you can do about it, and how you can decide on treatment. This link will take you to the web site.

This directory quickly helps you locate physicians near you.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has put together a comprehensive guide to help you get your blood pressure under control.

Useful handouts on high blood pressure and other hypertension information can be found at this web site. This link will take you there.

Because even kids can have high blood pressure, Teens Health aims to teach kids what hypertension is, its causes, and how they can prevent it. This link will take you to the group’s web site.

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Living & Managing

From quitting smoking to safe exercise and laughing your way to a healthier heart, here are helpful tips on living with and managing your high blood pressure.

Living and Coping

Be proactive about your care. Ask your doctor these high blood pressure questions about your high blood pressure.

What causes hypertension? What constitutes a normal blood pressure? How is hypertension treated? Get the answers to these and other frequently asked questions.

Most medicines aren’t affected by grapefruit juice, but more than 50 medicines are — including those for high blood pressure. Is yours on the list? Find out.

Eating less sodium may help lower your high blood pressure. These five tips show you how to cut back.

Small changes can have a big impact on your health. Here are several handy tips on how to incorporate the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet into your daily life.

Personal Stories

Personal stories of people living and coping with hypertension.

Treatment & Care

Treating high blood pressure can take a multi-pronged approach including diet changes, medication, and exercise. Learn about hypertension treatment options here.

Treatment

Treatment for hypertension comes in many forms — from lifestyle changes to medication. Learn more from this overview about how to lower blood pressure here.

Did you know that people who smoke are more likely to develop hypertension and heart disease? Learn more and get tips on quitting — and avoiding a relapse.

You don’t need to hike miles or work up a daily sweat to lower blood pressure with exercise. Discover how easy it is to get started with these exercise tips.

See how your eating choices and the DASH diet can help you lower blood pressure.

Left unmanaged, stress can lead to emotional, psychological, and even physical problems, including coronary artery disease and high blood pressure. Get tips on the warning signs of dangerous stress and learn how to reduce it, while boosting a positive outlook.

Learn about different medications used to treat Hypertension here.

Runaway hypertension plagued 37-year-old Annette Lawrence. Then she became the first person to test an implant to control high blood pressure, an implant that now helps her live a normal, active life. Find out more.

There are many types of complementary and alternative treatments believed to be effective for treating hypertension. Get the facts on your options.

High blood pressure treatment isn’t limited to drugs. Find out why natural blood pressure treatments such as meditation can have a significant effect.

Owning a pet can ward off depression, lower blood pressure, and boost immunity. Is pet therapy right for you?

Care

The most important element in managing high blood pressure is follow-up care. Here are six tips to keep in mind about follow-up care.

Monitoring your own blood pressure is a good way to keep on top of hypertension. Get tips on how to prepare, and step-by-step instructions for taking your own blood pressure readings.

If your doctor has prescribed medication to lower your blood pressure, here are twelve things to keep in mind about your treatment protocol.

Diagnosis & Tests

Diagnosing hypertension is important. Learn how doctors test for high blood pressure and even see a photo of how the test is done.

Diagnosis

High blood pressure is often called a “silent disease” because you usually don’t know you have it; there may be no outward symptoms or signs, so monitoring your blood pressure is critical.

Tests

The only way to tell whether you have high blood pressure is to have your blood pressure measured with a blood pressure cuff (sphygmomanometer). Learn just what that entails, what your results mean, and other tests your doctor may perform.

Want to know how blood pressure is measured and what a blood pressure cuff looks like? Click on the photo in this article and you’ll have an idea what to expect when you get your blood pressure taken.

Symptoms & Types

Are there hypertension symptoms? What are the complications of high blood pressure? Learn about hypertension, its symptoms, complications, and types.

Symptoms

How well are you managing your hypertension? Get your WebMD Hypertension Score.

One of the most dangerous aspects of hypertension is that you may not know that you have it. Nearly one-third of people who have hypertension don’t know it. There are signs of extremely high blood pressure: Learn the signs to watch for.

Warning Signs

In most cases, there are no clear warning signs of high blood pressure, but blood pressure can become dangerously high and threaten your organs and your life.

Regular visits to your doctor can help you manage hypertension. However, there may be situations that warrant a call to your doctor between visits. Learn what to watch for and when it’s time to pick up the phone.

Types

Unlike hypertension, the less common secondary hypertension is the result of another condition or disorder, such as kidney disease or sleep apnea. Learn which other conditions put you at risk, and how the condition is diagnosed and treated.

Nearly a quarter of American adults are said to have a new disorder: prehypertension. Find out what that is.

Complications

One of the most serious health problems related to untreated high blood pressure, atherosclerosis contributes to coronary artery disease. Learn about symptoms, diagnoses, and treatment of atherosclerosis.

A stroke occurs when blood flow to an area in the brain is cut off and people who have hypertension are four to six times more likely to have a stroke. Stay safe: Learn your risk factors and the warning signs of stroke and what to do in a stroke emergency.

Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death associated with hypertension. Learn more about related heart conditions, their diagnoses, and treatment.

Hypertension is a major cause of kidney disease and kidney failure. There are symptoms to watch for — and treatment options. Learn more.

Untreated hypertension can affect your eyesight, causing damage to the blood vessels in the retina. Known as hypertensive retinopathy, learn more about this condition and its prevention.

Hypertension is a risk factor for the development and worsening of many diabetes complications, and likewise having diabetes increases your risk of developing high blood pressure. Learn more about how these two conditions affect one another.

High blood pressure can be a sign of preeclampsia, a pregnancy-related problem that can become life-threatening. Learn what you need to know.

Metabolic syndrome is a group of health problems which include too much fat around the waist, elevated blood pressure, elevated blood sugar, and more — all increasing your risk of heart attack, stroke, and diabetes. Find out more about metabolic syndrome here.

High blood pressure by itself can lead to erectile dysfunction. But some drugs for treating high blood pressure can actually be the cause as well. Find out more about why high blood pressure is a major cause of erection problems.

 

Hypertension

High blood pressure increases the risk of heart disease and stroke so it’s important to know how to lower high blood pressure. Hypertension risk factors include obesity, drinking too much alcohol, smoking, and family history

 

Causes of High Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against blood vessel walls. The heart pumps blood into the arteries (blood vessels), which carry the blood throughout the body. High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is dangerous because it makes the heart work harder to pump blood to the body and it contributes to hardening of the arteries or atherosclerosis and the development of heart failure.

What Is “Normal” Blood Pressure?

There are several categories of blood pressure, including:

  • Normal: Less than 120/80
  • Prehypertension: 120-139/80-89
  • Stage 1 high blood pressure: 140-159/90-99
  • Stage 2 high blood pressure: 160 and above/100 and above

People whose blood pressure is above the normal range should consult their doctor about methods for lowering it.

What Causes High Blood Pressure?

The exact causes of high blood pressure�are not known. Several factors and conditions may play a role in its development, including:

  • Smoking
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Too much salt in the diet
  • Too much alcohol consumption (more than 1 to 2 drinks per day)
  • Stress
  • Older age
  • Genetics
  • Family history of high blood pressure
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Adrenal and thyroid disorders

Essential Hypertension

In as many as 95% of reported high blood pressure cases in the United States, the underlying cause cannot be determined. This type of high blood pressure is called essential hypertension.

Though essential hypertension remains somewhat mysterious, it has been linked to certain risk factors. High blood pressure tends to run in families and is more likely to affect men than women. Age and race also play a role. In the United States, blacks are twice as likely as whites to have high blood pressure, although the gap begins to narrow around age 44. After age 65, black women have the highest incidence of high blood pressure.

Essential hypertension is also greatly influenced by diet and lifestyle. The link between salt and high blood pressure is especially compelling. People living on the northern islands of Japan eat more salt per capita than anyone else in the world and have the highest incidence of essential hypertension. By contrast, people who add no salt to their food show virtually no traces of essential hypertension.

The majority of all people with high blood pressure are “salt sensitive,” meaning that anything more than the minimal bodily need for salt is too much for them and increases their blood pressure. Other factors that have been associated with essential hypertension include obesity; diabetes; stress; insufficient intake of potassium, calcium, and magnesium; lack of physical activity; and chronic alcohol consumption.

Secondary Hypertension

When a direct cause for high blood pressure can be identified, the condition is described as secondary hypertension. Among the known causes of secondary hypertension, kidney disease ranks highest. Hypertension can also be triggered by tumors or other abnormalities that cause the adrenal glands (small glands that sit atop the kidneys) to secrete excess amounts of the hormones that elevate blood pressure. Birth control pills — specifically those containing estrogen — and pregnancy can boost blood pressure, as can medications that constrict blood vessels.

Who Is More Likely to Develop High Blood Pressure?

  • People with family members who have high blood pressure.
  • People who smoke.
  • African-Americans.
  • Women who are pregnant.
  • Women who take birth control pills.
  • People over the age of 35.
  • People who are overweight or obese.
  • People who are not active.
  • People who drink alcohol excessively.
  • People who eat too many fatty foods or foods with too much salt.