Chronic conditions like hypertension, or high blood pressure, can affect your overall health and well-being. Making healthy lifestyle choices can help lower your risk of — and even prevent — high blood pressure.
Blood pressure is the force of blood flowing through your blood vessels, and it’s normal for it to rise and fall throughout the day. High blood pressure occurs when your blood pressure is consistently too high. High blood pressure can cause damage to your heart or lead to other health issues.
There are two types of hypertension. Primary hypertension is typically just called high blood pressure and usually occurs over time. High blood pressure can develop due to unhealthy lifestyle choices, and certain health conditions can increase risk. Secondary hypertension is caused by another medical condition, like those that affect your kidneys, heart, or endocrine system. Nearly half of American adults have high blood pressure, and one in three of those individuals don’t even know they have it.
Some factors increase your risk for high blood pressure. These include:
The good news is, you can control many of these factors and lower your risk by making healthy lifestyle choices. Eating a heart-healthy diet, staying physically active, managing your stress, and getting enough sleep can all help prevent high blood pressure.
There are often no symptoms of primary hypertension, and it’s often called the “silent killer” because of this. Early morning headaches, nosebleeds, irregular heart rhythms, and changes to vision can occur in some people, but those are not very common. Fatigue, nausea, anxiety, and chest pain may be present in some severe cases. Monitoring your blood pressure regularly is the best way to know if you have hypertension.
You can check your blood pressure:
Wondering how to check your blood pressure without a machine? You can do this by just using your pulse, but this method is unreliable and not recommended. Always talk to your health care provider if you have concerns about your blood pressure.
Use this guide from the American Heart Association to better understand what your blood pressure numbers mean.