The prehypertension category represents a great place to institute treatment measures that carry no risk such as salt restriction, alcohol restriction, exercise program, stress and weight reduction and smoking cessation.
High blood pressure is divided into two types:
Type one consists of those individuals in whom no cause can be found and is called primary or essential hypertension. These make up about 90% of cases.
Type two consists of those in whom a cause can be found and represents about 5 to 10% of cases. It is called secondary hypertension.
The Consequences of Untreated High blood pressure:
The higher pressure stiffens the arteries and promotes hardening of the arteries (arteriosclerosis) leading to strokes and heart attacks.
It can damage the retina of the eye leading to vision impairment.
It can damage the small filtering units of the kidney leading to impairment of the kidney function and actually kidney failure.
Speaking of failure, the heart, working under increased pressure, eventually fails, congestive heart failure.
Causes of High Blood Pressure:
In most cases (90%) no cause can be found or demonstrated. Obviously there is a cause for everything but our best efforts fail to find one so far.
This topic can only apply to secondary hypertension and the causes are many. See this special page on Causes of High Blood Pressure
There are aggravating factors, which can increase blood pressure:
Essential or Primary Hypertension:
Basically there are no symptoms associated with this class. There are a number of them that are popularly associated such as dizziness, headache, nosebleed, flushing, tension and fatigue. These are coincidental and not caused by the pressure.
Symptoms usually occur and are associated with the disease state causing the hypertension. Please see my pages on High Blood Pressure Symptoms and High Blood Pressure Signs
The first order of the day is to do whatever you can do about the aggravating factors listed immediately above. These measures carry no risk, only benefit. When the pressure averages 140 over 90 or more then drugs are justified. The only way you can be sure you know your average pressure level is to take it yourself. See How and Why at How to Take Blood Pressure
We have many drugs to treat hypertension; many of them are excellent. Often there are coexisting conditions, which strongly influence the choice. See my page on Lower Blood Pressure on the Navigation Bars at the left side of this page. See these pages Blood Pressure Medication and Blood Pressure Medications
Obviously if there is a cause identifiable (secondary hypertension) then the only sensible (and most effective) treatment is removal or treatment of the cause.
Benefits of Treatment:
The benefits of treatment are the opposite of the consequences. More specifically lowering blood pressure to normal levels reduces the incidence of stroke by 35% to 40%, the incidence of heart attack by 20% to 25% and heart failure by 50%. The greater the reduction in pressure the greater the benefit. In people with Stage one hypertension (see Normal Blood Pressure) and additional cardiovascular risk factors, a 12 mm Hg reduction in systolic over 10 years is estimated to prevent one death for every 11 individuals treated. If cardiovascular disease or target-organ damage is already present then one death for every 9 individuals is prevented.
In the general population a 5 mm Hg average reduction in pressure would result in 14% less stroke mortality, 9% less heart disease mortality, and 7% less overall mortality.
If you are thinking that blood pressure reductions appear to have more effect on stroke than heart disease you are right. Just look again at the statistics. Both get a good benefit.
If you are thinking that you might just directly save your own life by normalizing your blood pressure you are right again. Read my page on why do self-monitoring at How to Take Blood Pressure
High Blood Pressure and Diet:
The role of diet in high blood pressure is mildly controversial. Is it just something you can manipulate to help manage your hypertension once you get it? Or do bad dietary habits actually cause blood pressure to go up in susceptible individuals?
Doctors Practical Guide:
Remember this: Either number elevated carries the same incidence of adverse events as if both numbers were elevated.
High Blood Pressure is a big subject; that's why I made this page a synopsis of the various aspects with links to more detailed explanations. Use these to learn more about what you are interested in and gain more tips to lower blood pressure and a healthier life. Be sure and read the page on How to Take Blood Pressure You can do it, it's easy. It's the only way you can get the numerous and accurate and reliable readings you need so that you know where you stand. Follow this page with the Homepage