High blood pressure (hypertension) – symptoms and causes (2023)


What is high blood pressure? A Mayo Clinic expert explains.

Learn about high blood pressure from nephrologist Leslie Thomas, M.D.

Hi. i am dr Leslie Thomas, a nephrologist at the Mayo Clinic. In this video we cover the basics of high blood pressure. What is it? who gets it The symptoms, diagnosis and treatment. Whether you're looking for answers for yourself or someone you love, we're here to give you the best information available. Hypertension means high blood pressure. A blood pressure reading consists of two numbers. These numbers are the systolic blood pressure and the diastolic blood pressure. Due to the pumping action of the heart, the pressure in the arteries alternates between higher pressure and lower pressure. The higher pressure occurs during the contraction of the left ventricle. The higher pressure is called the systolic blood pressure. The lower pressure occurs during relaxation of the heart's left ventricle. This lower pressure is called diastolic blood pressure.

who gets it

Hypertension is a very common condition, affecting up to 40% of adults. It is one of the most common medical conditions for which drugs are prescribed. Most people with high blood pressure have primary hypertension. How primary hypertension develops is not yet fully understood. However, it has felt like it resulted from many inherited and environmental factors interacting in complex ways within the body. Risks for developing primary hypertension include family history, advancing age, obesity, a high-sodium diet, alcohol consumption, and physical inactivity. High blood pressure where a specific cause is identified is called secondary hypertension. There are many possible causes of secondary high blood pressure. These causes include certain prescription or over-the-counter medications, kidney disease, certain endocrine disorders, or a significant narrowing of the aorta or any renal artery.

What are the symptoms?

Rarely, a person with very high blood pressure may have symptoms. These symptoms can include shortness of breath, blurred vision, or a headache.

How is it diagnosed?

Hypertension can be diagnosed by taking careful and repeated measurements of blood pressure. Blood pressure categories include normal blood pressure, defined as a systolic pressure less than 120 and a diastolic pressure less than 80. Elevated blood pressure is defined as a systolic pressure of 120 to 129 and a diastolic pressure less than 80. Hypertension is defined as systolic pressure greater than or equal to 130 or a diastolic pressure greater than or equal to 80.

How is it treated?

(Video) High Blood Pressure - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment Options

Treatment for high blood pressure includes lifestyle modifications alone or in combination with antihypertensive drug therapy. For those with certain common medical conditions, including cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, and diabetes mellitus. Certain medications may be more beneficial to use compared to other medications. Deciding on the best target blood pressure, starting antihypertensive drug therapy, and deciding which specific drug or combination of drugs to use is highly individual and influenced by many factors.

What now?

You and your care team can work together to create the best treatment plan for you. It doesn't matter which method you choose. There are many reasons to be optimistic about treating your high blood pressure. If you're still interested in learning more about high blood pressure, watch our other related videos or visit mayoclinic.org. We wish you all the best.

High blood pressure is a common condition that affects the arteries of the body. It is also called high blood pressure. When you have high blood pressure, the force of the blood pushing against the walls of the arteries is consistently too high. The heart has to work harder to pump blood.

Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). In general, high blood pressure is a blood pressure reading of 130/80mmHgor higher.

The American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association divide blood pressure into four general categories. The ideal blood pressure is classified as normal.)

  • normal blood pressure.Blood pressure is 120/80mmHgor lower.
  • Elevated blood pressure.The top number ranges from 120 to 129mmHgand the bottom number is under, not over 80mmHg.
  • high blood pressure stage 1The top number ranges from 130 to 139mmHgor the lower number is between 80 and 89mmHg.
  • high blood pressure stage 2The highest number is 140mmHgor higher or the lowest number is 90mmHgor higher.

Blood pressure higher than 180/120mmHgis considered a hypertensive emergency or crisis. Seek emergency medical help for anyone with these blood pressure readings.

Untreated high blood pressure increases the risk of heart attack, stroke and other serious health problems. It is important that you have your blood pressure checked at least every two years from the age of 18. Some people need more frequent check-ups.

Healthy lifestyle habits, such as not smoking, exercising, and eating healthily, can help prevent and treat high blood pressure. Some people need medication to treat high blood pressure.



Most people with high blood pressure have no symptoms, even when blood pressure levels reach dangerously high levels. You can suffer from high blood pressure for years without symptoms.

(Video) High Blood Pressure - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment Options

Some people with high blood pressure may have:

  • headache
  • shortness of breath
  • nosebleeds

However, these symptoms are not specific. They usually don't appear until the high blood pressure has reached a serious or life-threatening stage.

When to the doctor

Blood pressure screening is an important part of general health care. How often you should have your blood pressure checked depends on your age and general health.

From the age of 18, ask your doctor to measure your blood pressure at least every two years. If you are 40 years of age or older, or between the ages of 18 and 39 and are at high risk of high blood pressure, have your blood pressure checked regularly every year.

Your doctor will likely recommend more frequent measurements if you have high blood pressure or other risk factors for heart disease.

Blood pressure can be measured in children from the age of 3 as part of their annual check-ups.

If you don't see a health care provider regularly, you may be able to get a free blood pressure test at a health fair or other places in your community. Free blood pressure monitors are also available in some shops and pharmacies. The accuracy of these machines depends on several things such as: B. Proper cuff size and proper use of the machines. Ask your doctor for advice on using public blood pressure monitors.

More information

  • Pulse pressure: an indicator of heart health?

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(Video) Hypertension- causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, pathology


Blood pressure is determined by two things: the amount of blood the heart is pumping and how hard it is for blood to move through the arteries. The more blood the heart pumps and the narrower the arteries, the higher the blood pressure.

There are two main types of high blood pressure.

Primary hypertension, also called essential hypertension

In most adults, there is no identifiable cause of high blood pressure. This type of high blood pressure is called primary hypertension or essential hypertension. It tends to develop gradually over many years. Plaque build-up in the arteries, called atherosclerosis, increases the risk of high blood pressure.

Secondary Hypertension

This type of high blood pressure is caused by an underlying condition. It tends to come on suddenly and causes higher blood pressure than primary hypertension. Disorders and drugs that can lead to secondary hypertension include:

(Video) High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Signs, Symptoms, Ways to Lower It | Mass General Brigham

  • adrenal tumors
  • Congenital blood vessel problems, also called congenital heart defects
  • Cough and cold medicines, some pain relievers, birth control pills, and other prescription drugs
  • Illicit drugs such as cocaine and amphetamines
  • kidney disease
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • thyroid problems

Sometimes just a health check causes blood pressure to rise. This is called white coat hypertension.

More information

  • Medications and supplements that can increase your blood pressure
  • Anxiety: A Cause of High Blood Pressure?
  • Blood Pressure Measurement: Why Higher at Home?
  • Blood Pressure: Is There a Daily Pattern?
  • caffeine and high blood pressure
  • Can a vitamin D deficiency lead to high blood pressure?
  • Sleep Deprivation: A Cause of High Blood Pressure?

risk factors

High blood pressure has many risk factors, including:

  • Age.The risk of high blood pressure increases with age. Up to around the age of 64, high blood pressure occurs more frequently in men. Women are more likely to develop high blood pressure after the age of 65.
  • race.High blood pressure is particularly common among black people. It develops at an earlier age in blacks than in whites.
  • family history.You are more likely to develop high blood pressure if you have a parent or sibling with the condition.
  • obesity or overweight.Obesity causes changes in the blood vessels, kidneys and other parts of the body. These changes often increase blood pressure. Being overweight or obese also increases the risk of heart disease and its risk factors, such as: B. High cholesterol.
  • lack of exercise.Not exercising can lead to weight gain. Increased weight increases the risk of high blood pressure. People who are inactive also tend to have higher heart rates.
  • Tobacco use or vaping.Smoking, chewing tobacco or vaping causes an immediate short-term rise in blood pressure. Smoking tobacco injures the walls of the blood vessels and accelerates the hardening process of the arteries. If you smoke, ask your caregiver about strategies to help you quit.
  • Too much salt.A lot of salt — also called sodium — in the body can cause the body to retain fluid. This increases blood pressure.
  • Low potassium level.Potassium helps balance the amount of salt in the body cells. A balanced potassium ratio is important for good heart health. Low potassium levels can result from a lack of potassium in the diet or from certain health conditions, including dehydration.
  • Drinking too much alcohol.Alcohol consumption has been linked to increased blood pressure, particularly in men.
  • Emphasize.Severe stress can cause a temporary increase in blood pressure. Stress-related habits such as eating more, smoking or drinking alcohol can further increase blood pressure.
  • Certain chronic diseases.Kidney disease, diabetes and sleep apnea are some of the conditions that can lead to high blood pressure.
  • Pregnancy.Sometimes pregnancy causes high blood pressure.

High blood pressure is most common in adults. But children can also have high blood pressure. High blood pressure in children can be caused by kidney or heart problems. But for a growing number of children, high blood pressure is linked to lifestyle choices such as poor diet and lack of exercise.


The excessive pressure on artery walls caused by high blood pressure can damage blood vessels and body organs. The higher the blood pressure and the longer it remains uncontrolled, the greater the damage.

Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to complications, including:

  • heart attack or stroke.Hardening and thickening of the arteries due to high blood pressure or other factors can lead to a heart attack, stroke, or other complications.
  • Aneurysm.Elevated blood pressure can cause a blood vessel to weaken and bulge, creating an aneurysm. If an aneurysm ruptures, it can be life-threatening.
  • heart failure.When you have high blood pressure, the heart has to work harder to pump blood. Stress causes the walls of the heart's pumping chamber to thicken. This condition is called left ventricular hypertrophy. Eventually, the heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the body's needs, leading to heart failure.
  • kidney problems.High blood pressure can cause the blood vessels in the kidneys to become narrow or weak. This can lead to kidney damage.
  • eye problems.Elevated blood pressure can lead to thickened, narrowed, or ruptured blood vessels in the eyes. This can lead to vision loss.
  • Metabolic Syndrome.This syndrome is a group of metabolic disorders of the body. It is about the irregular breakdown of sugar, also called glucose. The syndrome includes increased waist size, high triglycerides, decreased high-density lipoprotein (HDL or "good") cholesterol, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar. These conditions increase the likelihood of developing diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
  • Changes with memory or understanding.Uncontrolled high blood pressure can impair the ability to think, remember and learn.
  • Dementia.Narrowed or blocked arteries can restrict blood flow to the brain. This can lead to a specific type of dementia called vascular dementia. A stroke that cuts off blood flow to the brain can also cause vascular dementia.

More information

  • High blood pressure and sex
  • Dangers of high blood pressure
  • Hypertensive crisis: what are the symptoms?

By Mayo Clinic staff

(Video) Common symptoms of High Blood Pressure | High Blood Pressure - Causes, Symptoms & Treatment Options

15. September 2022


What are the causes of hypertension high blood pressure? ›

What causes high blood pressure? High blood pressure usually develops over time. It can happen because of unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as not getting enough regular physical activity. Certain health conditions, such as diabetes and having obesity, can also increase the risk for developing high blood pressure.

What is hypertension explain the causes and symptoms of hypertension? ›

High blood pressure is a common condition that affects the body's arteries. It's also called hypertension. If you have high blood pressure, the force of the blood pushing against the artery walls is consistently too high. The heart has to work harder to pump blood.

What are 10 causes of hypertension? ›

You might be more at risk if you:
  • are overweight.
  • eat too much salt and do not eat enough fruit and vegetables.
  • do not do enough exercise.
  • drink too much alcohol or coffee (or other caffeine-based drinks)
  • smoke.
  • do not get much sleep or have disturbed sleep.
  • are over 65.
  • have a relative with high blood pressure.

What are the symptoms when your high blood pressure is high? ›

Symptoms of High Blood Pressure

Lightheadedness/Fainting. Fatigue. Headache. Heart palpitations.

Can lack of sleep cause high blood pressure? ›

Insomnia is linked to high blood pressure and heart disease. Over time, poor sleep can also lead to unhealthy habits that can hurt your heart, including higher stress levels, less motivation to be physically active, and unhealthy food choices.

Can hypertension be cured? ›

While there is no cure for high blood pressure, it is important for patients to take steps that matter, such as making effective lifestyle changes and taking BP-lowering medications as prescribed by their physicians.


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