What is Hypertension?

What is Hypertension

Many patients with high blood pressure or hypertension don’t develop symptoms right away, so conducting regular blood pressure checks is an important part of your primary care plan for disease prevention. The healthcare professionals at Chapel Hill Primary Care are dedicated to helping you manage the condition and improve the quality of your life.

Understanding Hypertension

The heart pumps oxygen-rich blood throughout the body, so that your organs and tissues get the nutrients they need to survive. The force of the blood against your artery walls is known as blood pressure. A normal blood pressure reading should be below 120/80 mm Hg. The top number is known as the systolic blood pressure, and the bottom number is called the diastolic blood pressure. Systolic blood pressure measures the force of the blood as the heart is pumping, while diastolic blood pressure measures the force of the blood while the heart is at rest. If your blood pressure readings are consistently above 120/80, you may have hypertension.

What is High Blood Pressure?

So what is high blood pressure, exactly? Pre-hypertension refers to a systolic blood pressure of 120 to 139 or a diastolic blood pressure of 80 to 89. A patient with a systolic measurement of 140 to 159 or a diastolic measurement of 90 to 99 is diagnosed with hypertension stage 1. Experts define hypertension stage 2 as a systolic reading of greater than 160 or a diastolic reading greater than 100.

What are the Signs of High Blood Pressure?

You may not experience any signs of high blood pressure, so you might not know you have hypertension until your primary care physician diagnoses it. You may see signs such as:

  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Frequent nosebleeds

but not everyone with high blood pressure experiences these symptoms. In many cases, symptoms don’t develop until you have a very high systolic blood pressure or a very high diastolic blood pressure. When this happens, you could also experience shortness of breath and severe anxiety.

What Causes High Blood Pressure?

Some patients have an increased risk of high blood pressure due to lifestyle factors such as eating too much salt and drinking more than one or two alcoholic drinks per day. Obesity also increases the risk for the condition, especially if you who don’t get enough exercise. Smoking, stress, and genetics are other potential reasons for high blood pressure.

Patients who have certain diseases may develop secondary hypertension. Adrenal tumors, chronic kidney disease, and thyroid disorders are just a few of the medical causes of high blood pressure. Women who develop hypertension while pregnant may be diagnosed with gestational hypertension.

How Can I Manage My Hypertension?

Your primary care provider will work with you to develop a personalized, effective treatment plan that takes your high blood pressure numbers and hypertension causes into account. In some cases, it is possible to control your blood pressure with a reduced-sodium diet and a healthier lifestyle.

Your primary care provider will teach you about the best foods for high blood pressure and explain how to control your hypertension with diet and physical activity. Medication is another option for managing your hypertension and preventing complications.

Chapel Hill Primary Care Approach

We use an evidence-based approach to managing hypertension and other chronic diseases. Your primary care provider will help you take charge of your health by recommending lifestyle changes and answering questions about your treatment plan. Use our patient portal to request an appointment at our Chapel Hill, NC primary care practice.