How do you know when you have hypertension?

Hypertension is a silent disease because most people don't know they have it until they are in a crisis. Often hypertension has so signs and symptoms or it goes undiagnosed because a person only experiences a mild headache. Getting diagnosed and keeping your blood pressure controlled can help prevent many complications of hypertension as well as prevent a crisis.

Doctors consider hypertension to be a systolic blood pressure of 140 or greater (top number) and/or a diastolic blood pressure of 90 or greater (bottom number). This should be noted on more than one occasion before your doctor puts you on medications. Pre-hypertension is a systolic pressure between 120 and 139 and/or a diastolic blood pressure between 80 and 89 on multiple readings. This is a good indication that you will develop hypertension and for this your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes.

The risk factors for hypertension are thought to be genetics, environmental pollutants, obesity, age (older = increased risk), gender (male>female), race (Afro-American), lack of exercise, smoking, and certain prescription and illegal drugs. Other factors may also affect your blood pressure such as: the water volume in the body; salt content of the body; condition of the kidneys, nervous system, or blood vessels; and various hormone levels in the body pregnancy.

So how does your doctor know that your blood pressure is high – they need to get the readings. For this you need to work with your doctor. Chances are s/he will make arrangements for you to come into the office for blood pressure checks once or twice a week for a couple of weeks. This way they can determine if you need to be placed on medications.

Bottom line is this, your blood pressure is your responsibility. When you go to the doctor and they take your pressure, ask what it is. If you notice it is high or near high, ask what they would recommend for you to do to prevent it from getting higher.

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