Conditions InDepth: Hypertension

Hypertension is known as high blood pressure. Blood pressure (BP) is the measure of force that blood flow makes against the artery walls.

Normal BP is in the range of 120/80 millimeters of mercury (mmHg). The higher number is called systolic blood pressure (SBP). It’s the pressure in the artery when the heart beats. The lower number is called diastolic blood pressure (DBP). It’s the pressure when the heart is at rest.

  • Blood pressure is higher than normal when the:
    • SBP is 120-129 mmHg and the
    • DBP is 80 mmHg
  • Stage 1:
    • SBP is 130-139 mmHg and/or
    • DBP is 80-89 mmHg
  • Stage 2:
    • SBP is 140 mmHg or higher and/or
    • DBP is 90 mmHg or higher

The Cardiovascular System

The Cardiovascular System
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Causes

Blood vessels help blood flow easily from one part of the body to another. This lets blood get to where it’s needed.

High blood pressure is caused by one or more of these:

  • Damage to blood vessel walls
  • Buildup of plaque (atherosclerosis) or blood clots on blood vessel walls
  • Structural problems with the vessels
  • Health problems or medicines that make blood vessels tighten when they should not
  • Lower elasticity of blood vessels—common with aging

These problems make it harder for the heart to push blood throughout the body. This can make the blood flow more turbulent, raising the pressure on the blood vessel walls.

Types

There are 2 types:

  • Primary—Often happens slowly because of factors listed above.
  • Secondary—Often happens faster. It’s caused by other health problems such as kidney or endocrine disorders or sleep apnea. Many common types of medicines can also cause this type.
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References:

High blood pressure. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/high-blood-pressure. Accessed September 15, 2020.
Hypertension. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115345/Hypertension. Accessed September 15, 2020.
What is high blood pressure? American Heart Association website. Available at: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/the-facts-about-high-blood-pressure. Accessed September 15, 2020.
Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael J. Fucci, DO, FACC
Last Updated: 11/20/2020

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