High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

  • Medical Author:
    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

  • Medical Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

Quick GuideHigh Blood Pressure Symptoms, Causes, Treatments

High Blood Pressure Symptoms, Causes, Treatments

What do blood pressure readings mean (Blood Pressure Readings Chart)?

Blood pressure readings can vary in a single person throughout the day depending on the situation. Factors such as stress, anxiety, foods eaten (caffeine or salt intake), smoking, or exercise can cause pressure to rise.

The American Heart Association defines a normal blood pressure as less than 120/80. Pre-hypertension ranges between 120/80 and 139/89, and high blood pressure is 140/90 and higher. In pregnancy normal blood pressure should be below 120/80.

If your blood pressure reaches into the high range, you should see your doctor about lifestyle modification and possibly medication especially if you have other risk factors, such as diabetes or heart disease.

High blood pressure (for example, 180/110 or higher) may indicate an emergency situation. If this high blood pressure is associated with chest pain, shortness of breath, headache, dizziness, or back or abdominal pain, seek medical care immediately. If you are experiencing no associated symptoms with a high blood pressure reading such as this, re-check it again within a few minutes and contact your doctor or go to an emergency room if it is still high.

If your blood pressure is lower than about 100/60 you may have low blood pressure, depending on the associated symptoms. If you are unsure, check with your doctor.

Reviewed on 2/18/2014
References
REFERENCES:

"About High Blood Pressure." American Heart Association. 22 Jan. 2013.

"Physical Activity and Blood Pressure." American Heart Association. 11 Feb. 2014.

"Understanding Blood Pressure Readings." American Heart Association. 1 Mar. 2013.

"How Is High Blood Pressure Treated?" National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. 2 Aug. 2012.

"Your Guide to Lowering Your Blood Pressure With DASH." National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Apr. 2006.

Kaplan, N. M., et al. "Overview of hypertension in adults." UpToDate. 14 Jan. 2014.

Mann, J. F. E., et al. "Choice of therapy in primary (essential) hypertension: Recommendations." UpToDate. 7 Jan. 2014.

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