Heart pumps blood into arteries which supplies it to the whole of our body. Blood pressure is the measure of force of blood against the walls of the blood vessels or arteries. High blood pressure means the walls of the blood vessels are receiving too much pressure repeatedly. Also known as hypertension.
A BP reading has a top number indicating systolic pressure and a bottom number indicating diastolic pressure. Systolic pressure is the blood pressure when the heart contracts. A diastolic pressure is the blood pressure when the heart is dilating and resting. The ranges of BP are as follows:
- Normal: Less than 120 over 80 (120/80)
- Prehypertension: 120-139 over 80-89
- Stage 1 high BP: 140-159 over 90-99
- Stage 2 high BP: 160 and above over 100 and above
- High blood pressure in people over age 60: 150 and above over 90 and above
Most people with high BP show no signs or symptoms until the BP reaches dangerous levels. A few of them may experience headaches, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, dizziness or nose bleed.
Causes of High Blood Pressure
Based on the causes, high BP can be classified into two types.
This type of high BP develops gradually over years and there is no identifiable cause.
An underlying condition like thyroid & kidney problems, defect in blood vessels, alcohol or drugs causes this type of high blood pressure.
Though there is no identifiable cause that leads to high BP, certain risk factors and conditions may play an important role in its development.
- Age – The risk of having high BP increases with age.
- Temperature – A study in France indicated that both the systolic and diastolic pressure varied significantly over seasons and based on temperature. The BP lowered when warm and increased when cold.
- Family History – The chances of developing high BP is more if any of your close family members have had this condition.
- Race – People with African or South Asian ancestry are more likely to develop high BP than other ancestries.
- Gender – High BP is more common in adult men than adult women. But after the age of 60, both are equally susceptible.
- Lack of physical activity – Leading a sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of high blood pressure.
- Alcohol Intake – People who drink regularly have increased risk of high BP.
- Smoking – Smoking narrows the blood vessels and also reduces the blood’s oxygen content. This results in high BP.
- High fat diet – A diet high in saturated fats and trans fats can result in high blood pressure.
- Stress – A person under stress over a long term is at a higher risk of developing hypertension.
- Pregnancy – Pregnant women are more likely to have this condition than women who are not pregnant. It is one of the complications that may arise during pregnancy.
- Diabetes – High blood sugar is the risk factor that causes high BP in both type 1 and type 2 diabetic patients.
- Psoriasis – A study in America has found that psoriasis is linked to increased risk of developing high BP.