How serious is Hypertension?

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a health condition that affects about one in three American adults. But not everyone who has hypertension has high blood pressure to the same degree. Doctors use four hypertension categories to help classify how likely your blood pressure level is to affect your health: prehypertension, stage 1, stage 2, and hypertensive crisis.

Normal Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is measured by taking two different measurements of the pressure within your arteries: systolic pressure and diastolic pressure. Systolic pressure, the first or top number of the blood pressure reading, is the highest level of pressure in your arteries, which occurs when your heart muscle contracts and forces a burst of blood into the aorta. Diastolic pressure, which is the bottom number, is the pressure that exists within your arteries between heart muscle contractions, which is when your heart is filling with blood.

Hypertension

Hypertension is diagnosed when your systolic pressure is 140 mm Hg or above or when your diastolic pressure is 90 or above. In people who have diabetes or kidney disease, hypertension is diagnosed when blood pressure is 130/80 mm Hg or higher. The higher your blood pressure is, the greater your risk of developing blood pressure-related complications such as heart disease, heart failure, stroke, or kidney failure.

The first stage of hypertension is called stage 1 hypertension. The systolic pressure is 140 to 159 mm Hg or your diastolic pressure is 90 to 99 mm Hg. The next stage of hypertension, stage 2 hypertension, is diagnosed when your systolic pressure is 160 mm Hg or higher or your diastolic pressure is 100 mm Hg or higher.

A diagnosis of hypertension means that you need treatment to get your blood pressure under control. Your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes and high blood pressure medication to help manage your blood pressure.

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