SignsBlood pressure can be measured by a sphygmomanometer or blood pressure monitor.
Having high blood pressure for a short time can be a normal response to many situations. Acute stress and intense exercise, for example, can briefly elevate blood pressure in a healthy person.
For this reason, a diagnosis of hypertension normally requires several readings that show high blood pressure over time.
The systolic reading of 130 mmHg refers to the pressure as the heart pumps blood around the body. The diastolic reading of 80 mmHg refers to the pressure as the heart relaxes and refills with blood.
The AHA (American Heart Association) 2017 guidelines define the following ranges of blood pressure:
|Systolic (mmHg)||Diastolic (mmHg)|
|Normal blood pressure||Less than 120||Less than 80|
|Elevated||Between 120 and 129||Less than 80|
|Stage 1 hypertension||Between 130 and 139||Between 80 and 89|
|Stage 2 hypertension||At least 140||At least 90|
|Hypertensive crisis||Over 180||Over 120|
If the reading is the same or higher, this is a medical emergency.
The person should seek immediate attention at the nearest hospital.
A person with hypertension may not notice any symptoms, and it is often called the "silent killer". While undetected, it can cause damage to the cardiovascular system and internal organs, such as the kidneys.
Regularly checking your blood pressure is vital, as there will usually be no symptoms to make you aware of the condition.
It is maintained that high blood pressure causes sweating, anxiety, sleeping problems, and blushing. However, in most cases, there will be no symptoms at all.
If blood pressure reaches the level of a hypertensive crisis, a person may experience headaches and nosebleeds.
ComplicationsLong-term hypertension can cause complications through atherosclerosis, where the formation of plaque results in the narrowing of blood vessels. This makes hypertension worse, as the heart must pump harder to deliver blood to the body.
Hypertension-related atherosclerosis can lead to:
- heart failure and heart attacks
- an aneurysm, or an abnormal bulge in the wall of an artery that can burst, causing severe bleeding and, in some cases, death
- kidney failure
- hypertensive retinopathies in the eye, which can lead to blindness
Regular blood pressure testing can help people avoid the more severe complications.