Hypertension is the highest level of blood pressure a person can have without a heart attack or stroke. It can cause a variety of problems including stroke and retinopathy, which can lead to blindness. African-Americans develop high blood pressure at an earlier age than white people and are more likely to develop severe cases. Women are at risk of hypertension after age 55, when their blood vessels are less flexible. Some researchers have also linked higher blood pressure to anger, hostility, and stress. Smoking is also a known risk factor, damaging blood vessels.
If you’re concerned about high blood pressure, you can talk to your doctor about the symptoms. If you’re not sure if you have the condition, a blood pressure reading will help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis. A health care professional will check your blood pressure at least twice a year and may want to check you more frequently if you’re suffering from high blood pressure. The doctors will usually diagnose you with high blood pressure based on two readings.
A healthcare provider will use a blood pressure cuff to take your pressure. If you can’t get to a healthcare professional, you can use an electronic blood pressure monitor. Most pharmacies carry these devices. The top number is your systolic blood pressure, while the bottom number is your diastolic blood pressure. The lower number represents the pressure inside your artery while the heart is resting, and is the pressure at rest.