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Elevated blood pressure

Elevated blood pressure means your blood pressure is slightly above normal. It will likely turn into high blood pressure also called hypertension unless you make lifestyle changes, such as getting more exercise and eating healthier foods. 
Both elevated blood pressure and high blood pressure increase your risk of a heart attack, stroke and heart failure. Weight loss, exercise and other healthy lifestyle changes can often control elevated blood pressure, and set the stage for a lifetime of better health. 

Symptoms 
Elevated blood pressure doesn't cause symptoms. The only way to detect it is to keep track of your blood pressure readings. Have your blood pressure checked at each doctor's visit — or check it at home with a home blood pressure monitoring device. 
If your blood pressure is extremely high, there may be certain symptoms which may include: 

  • Severe headache 
  • Fatigue or confusion 
  • Vision problems 
  • Chest pain 
  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Irregular heartbeat 
  • Blood in the urine 
  • Pounding in your chest, neck, or ears 

If you have any of these symptoms, see a doctor immediately. 

Causes 
Any factor that increases pressure against the artery walls can lead to elevated blood pressure. The buildup of fatty deposits in your arteries (atherosclerosis) can lead to high blood pressure. 
Besides atherosclerosis, other conditions that can lead to elevated blood pressure or high blood pressure include: 
Obstructive sleep apnea 

  • Kidney disease 
  • Adrenal disease 
  • Thyroid disease 
  • Certain medications   
  • Illegal drugs, such as cocaine and amphetamines, can have the same effect. 
Any factor that increases pressure against the artery walls can lead to elevated blood pressure. The buildup of fatty deposits in your arteries (atherosclerosis) can lead to high blood pressure. 
Besides atherosclerosis, other conditions that can lead to elevated blood pressure or high blood pressure include: 

  • Obstructive sleep apnea 
  • Kidney disease 
  • Adrenal disease 
  • Thyroid disease 
Certain medications including birth control pills, cold remedies, decongestants, over-the-counter pain relievers and some prescription drugs also can cause blood pressure to rise temporarily. Illegal drugs, such as cocaine and amphetamines, can have the same effect. 

Risk factors 
Risk factors for elevated blood pressure include: 
Being overweight or obese. The greater your body mass, the more blood you need to supply oxygen and nutrients to your tissues. As the amount of blood going through your blood vessels increases, so does the force on your artery walls. 
Age. Younger adults are more likely to have elevated blood pressure than are older adults because the risk of hypertension increases as you age. So many older adults have progressed beyond elevated blood pressure to hypertension. Even children can develop elevated blood pressure, especially if they're overweight or obese. 
Sex. High blood pressure is more common in men than in women through about age 55. Women are more likely to develop high blood pressure after age 55. 
Race. High blood pressure is particularly common among people of African heritage, often developing at an earlier age than it does in white people. 
Family history of high blood pressure. If a first-degree relative, such as a parent or sibling, has high blood pressure, you're more likely to develop the condition. 
Not being physically active. Not exercising can increase your risk of high blood pressure and increase your risk of being overweight. 
Diet high in salt (sodium) or low in potassium. Sodium and potassium are two key nutrients in the way your body regulates your blood pressure. If you have too much sodium or too little potassium in your diet, you're more likely to have high blood pressure. 
Tobacco use. Smoking cigarettes, chewing tobacco or being around others who smoke (secondhand smoke) can increase your blood pressure. 
Drinking too much alcohol. Alcohol use has been associated with increased blood pressure, particularly in men. 
Certain chronic conditions. Kidney disease, diabetes and sleep apnea, among others, can increase the risk of elevated blood pressure. 
Elevated blood pressure and high blood pressure are most common in adults, children can be at risk, too. For some children, kidney or heart problems can cause high blood pressure. 

Complications 
Elevated blood pressure is likely to worsen and develop into hypertension. Hypertension can damage your organs and increase the risk of several conditions including 

  • Heart attack,  
  • Heart failure,  
  • Stroke,  
  • Aneurysms  
  • Kidney failure. 

Prevention 
The same healthy lifestyle changes recommended to treat elevated blood pressure also help prevent hypertension. You've heard it before — eat healthy foods, use less salt, exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight, drink less alcohol, manage stress and quit smoking. But take the advice to heart. Start adopting healthier habits today. 

Diagnosis  
A blood pressure test diagnoses elevated blood pressure. 
Blood pressure reading has two numbers. Upper number measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats called systolic pressure. Lower number measures the pressure in your arteries between beats called diastolic pressure. 

Your blood pressure is considered normal if it's below 120/80 millimetre of mercury. Other blood pressure measurements are categorized as: 
Elevated blood pressure. Elevated blood pressure is a systolic pressure ranging from 120 to 129 millimetre of mercury and a diastolic pressure below 80 mm Hg. Elevated blood pressure tends to get worse over time unless steps are taken to control blood pressure. 
Stage 1 hypertension. Stage 1 hypertension is a systolic pressure ranging from 130 to 139 millimetre of mercury or a diastolic pressure ranging from 80 to 89 millimetre of mercury. 
Stage 2 hypertension. More-severe hypertension, stage 2 hypertension, is a systolic pressure of 140 millimetre of mercury or higher or a diastolic pressure of 90 millimetre of Hg.

Because blood pressure tends to fluctuate, a diagnosis of elevated blood pressure is based on the average of two or more blood pressure readings taken on separate occasions in a consistent manner.  

Treatment  
Simple lifestyle changes can often help reduce high blood pressure, although some people may need to take medication as well. 
If you have elevated blood pressure accompanied by diabetes, kidney disease or cardiovascular disease, your doctor might recommend blood pressure medication in addition to lifestyle changes. 
If you've been diagnosed with elevated blood pressure, the benefits of medication are less clear. If you have stage 1 or stage 2 hypertension, your doctor will likely prescribe medications. 
 Lifestyle changes to help control your elevated blood pressure include: 

  • Getting to and maintaining a healthy weight 
  • Eating a healthy, low-salt diet 
  • Exercising regularly 
  • Limiting the amount of alcohol you drink 
  • Quitting smoking


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