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Heart Disease and High Blood Pressure

What Is the Connection Between High Blood Pressure and Heart Disease?

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is one of the leading causes of heart disease. The excess strain from high blood pressure causes coronary arteries to build up fat, cholesterol, and plaque along the artery walls. This buildup narrows the passage of blood through the arteries, causing blood to stop flowing to a part of your heart muscle. This blockage and lack of blood flow is what causes a heart attack.

Blood Pressure Categories

According to the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association, there are four categories of blood pressure readings. They are based on blood pressure measurements in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg):

  • Normal blood pressure (this is ideal): Blood pressure is lower than 120/80 mm Hg.
  • Elevated blood pressure: The top number ranges from 120 to 129 mm Hg and the bottom number is below 80 mm Hg.
  • Stage 1 hypertension: The top number ranges from 130 to 139 mm Hg or the bottom number is between 80 and 89 mm Hg.
  • Stage 2 hypertension: The top number is 140 mm Hg or higher or the bottom number is 90 mm Hg or higher.

If your blood pressure is higher than 180/120 mm Hg, this is considered a hypertensive crisis (emergency). Seek emergency medical help for anyone with these blood pressure numbers. 

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of High Blood Pressure?

In many cases, patients with hypertension, or high blood pressure, don’t know they have it. In fact, high blood pressure is a “silent killer” as it is mostly symptomless. The only way to monitor high blood pressure is through regular checkups. Regular checkups are even more important if you have a close relative with high blood pressure.

These are the most common signs and symptoms of extremely high blood pressure. If you have any of these symptoms, see your Banner health professional immediately:

  • Fatigue or confusion
  • Vision problems
  • Severe headache
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Blood in urine
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Pounding in chest, neck, or ears
  • Irregular heartbeat

What Causes High Blood Pressure?

The exact causes of high blood pressure are unknown, but in some cases high blood pressure can be a result of an underlying condition. There are two types of high blood pressure:

Primary Hypertension

Most patients don’t have an identifiable cause of high blood pressure. Primary hypertension, sometimes referred to as essential hypertension, tends to develop gradually over time. Usually, the cause of essential hypertension is unknown.

Secondary Hypertension

Secondary hypertension is high blood pressure caused by an underlying condition. This type of hypertension appears suddenly and causes higher blood pressure than primary hypertension. There are several conditions and medications that can cause secondary hypertension, including:

  • Kidney problems
  • Adrenal gland tumors
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Thyroid problems
  • Blood vessel defects you’re born with
  • Certain medications, including cold remedies, decongestants, birth control pills, over-the-counter pain relievers, and certain prescription drugs
  • Illegal drugs, like cocaine and amphetamines

How Is High Blood Pressure Treated?

High blood pressure can be treated with home remedies. These are some of the ways you can try managing your high blood pressure without medication:

  • Getting regular exercise and maintain a healthy weight
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Quit smoking
  • Cut back on caffeine
  • Learn to manage stress
  • Eat dark chocolate or cocoa
  • Eat more potassium-rich foods
  • Eat berries
  • Cut refined carbs and added sugar from your diet
  • Eat calcium-rich food
  • Eat foods rich in magnesium
  • Take natural supplements like garlic extract, hibiscus, whey protein, fish oil, or berberine

In some cases, high blood pressure is treated with medications. Depending on your condition, your doctor may prescribe more than one type of medication to treat your condition.

Some common blood pressure medications include:

  • Diuretics
  • Calcium channel blockers
  • Beta-blockers
  • Renin inhibitors
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
  • Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs)

How Do I Prevent High Blood Pressure?

If you have high blood pressure, making certain lifestyle changes can help bring your numbers down and work alongside your medication to keep them under control in the long term. Adopting a healthy lifestyle is essential in preventing and managing high blood pressure. Here are some ways to prevent and control high blood pressure:

Here are some ways to prevent and control high blood pressure:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Adopt a healthy diet
  • Get regular exercise
  • Reduce your stress
  • Quit smoking
  • Limit alcohol intake
  • Reduce sodium intake
  • Cut back on caffeine
  • Check your blood pressure regularly at home using a blood pressure monitor