High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
Often called “the silent killer,” hypertension comes with no symptoms, and can greatly increase a person’s risk of heart disease, stroke and kidney failure. Fortunately, you can control high blood pressure through lifestyle changes and, if needed, medications. Erlanger’s Hypertension Management Center offers the latest treatment options to help patients take control of their high-blood pressure, and lead healthier, happier lives.
What Is High Blood Pressure?
When your heart beats it creates pressure – pushing blood through miles of arteries, and carrying nutrients, water and oxygen to the farthest corners of the body. High blood pressure happens when the force of the blood against your artery walls is too high. This pressure naturally rises and falls during the day. However, prolonged high blood pressure makes the heart work too hard as well as putting stress on your arteries, brain and kidneys.
How Is Blood Pressure Measured?
Because hypertension has no symptoms, it’s extremely important to have it checked regularly. This is done by placing an inflatable cuff on your arm, and measuring your pulse with a stethoscope. In addition, you can also check your blood pressure with a home monitor. These affordable devices, available at any pharmacy, are a great investment.
What Do The Numbers Mean?
A blood pressure reading includes two numbers, both measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). The upper number – systolic blood pressure – is your blood pressure when your heart beats. The lower number – diastolic blood pressure – is your blood pressure when your heart is at rest. Here are the general guidelines (for most adults) for normal, at-risk, and high blood pressure:
Systolic: less than 120 mmHg
Diastolic: less than 80mmHg
Systolic: less than 120–139 mmHg
Diastolic: less than 80–89 mmHg
Systolic: 140 mmHg or higher
Diastolic: 90mmHg or higher
What Causes High Blood Pressure?
Several risk factors are known to contribute to high blood pressure:
- Being overweight or obese
- Too much salt (sodium) in your diet
- A sedentary lifestyle (lack of activity)
- Not eating potassium-rich foods (beans, dark leafy greens, potatoes, squash, avocados, mushrooms, and bananas)
- Drinking too much alcohol (more than 1 to 2 drinks per day)
- Obstructive sleep apnea
How Can I Lower My Blood Pressure?
The Erlanger Hypertension Center can determine your unique risk factors and develop a personalized course of treatment. This may include medication. Lifestyle changes that can help lower your blood pressure include:
- Reduce the salt (sodium) in your diet
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Eat foods high in potassium including vegetables, fruits and whole grains
- Avoid processed foods
- Exercise regularly
- Limit alcohol consumption
Get Help from Erlanger’s Hypertension Specialists
We know that lifestyle changes can improve blood pressure, but actually making healthy habits part of your life is frequently easier said than done. That’s why patients often benefit from medically-supervised support and lifestyle education from the Erlanger Hypertension Center. Our experts empower you with knowledge and skills to make long-term lifestyle changes. We offer a medically supervised plan to help you bring your blood pressure to safe levels and enhance your long-term well-being.
Adults – Erlanger Hypertension Management Center
Children – Pediatric Nephrology & Hypertension Care through Children's Hospital at Erlanger