Definition

Consistently high blood pressure.

When the heart beats, it creates pressure that pushes blood through a network of tube-shaped blood vessels (arteries, veins and capillaries).

Systolic pressure – blood is pumping out of the heart and into the vessels.

Diastolic pressure – heart is resting between heart beats.

Also Known As

  • High blood pressure
  • HTN

Types

  • Primary hypertension. No identifiable cause.
  • Secondary hypertension. High blood pressure caused by an underlying condition.

Causes

  • Congenital (from birth) defects
  • Drug use (cocaine, amphetamines)
  • Kidney problems / disease
  • Medications (birth control pills, over the counter medications, decongestants)
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Thyroid issues
  • Tumors on adrenal gland

Statistics

Risk Factors

  • Age.
  • Alcohol use
  • Chronic conditions (diabetes, kidney disease, sleep apnea)
  • Diet – too much salt / too little potassium
  • Family history
  • Overweight / Obesity
  • Physical inactivity
  • Race / Ethnicity. African Americans are more likely to develop hypertension earlier, and suffer from more complications than other races.
  • Smoking / Tobacco Use
  • Stress

Prevention

Living a healthy lifestyle is key to preventing and managing high blood pressure.

  • Eat a healthy diet (rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains; low in salt and saturated fats)
  • Get enough sleep
  • Limit alcohol intake
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Be physically active (strive for 150 minutes per week of moderate activity)
  • Quit smoking / tobacco use

Vaccinations

People with heart disease are at higher risk for serious problems from certain diseases. Getting vaccinated is an important step in staying healthy.

High blood pressure can make it harder to fight off certain diseases, make it more likely complications to those diseases will follow, or increase the risk of a heart attack. The CDC recommends all adults receive:

  • Influenza – recommended every year, age 6 months and older
  • Tdap – (if an adult did not receive it as an adolescent to protect against pertussis (whooping cough), and then a Td (tetanus, diphtheria) booster shot every 10 years.

Additionally, the CDC recommends the following vaccines for adults suffering from heart disease (talk to your doctor about which vaccines are right for you):

COVID-19 and High Blood Pressure

The American Heart Association advises caution. Based on current knowledge, if infected, elderly people with high blood pressure are more likely to develop severe symptoms. The CDC has stated that anyone with an underlying health condition (including those with serious heart conditions) is at higher risk for severe illness.

  • Coronavirus: What heart and stroke patients need to know (video)

Resources

Support Groups