Welcome to the High Blood Pressure Resource Center. Many people have or are at risk of developing high blood pressure, or hypertension. Are you one of them? The State Health Plan offers resources to help you lower your risks and improve your health. Find out more by reviewing the information below from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
What is High Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is blood pressure that is higher than normal. Your blood pressure changes throughout the day based on your activities. When blood pressure measures consistently above normal, a diagnosis of high blood pressure (or hypertension) may result.
Factors You Can’t Control that May Increase Your Risk
Both men and women can have high blood pressure. Some other characteristics that you cannot control – such as genetics, age, race, or ethnicity – can affect your risk.
- Genetics – Family genes may influence the onset of high blood pressure.
- Age – Because your blood pressure tends to rise as you get older, your risk increases with age. About 9 out of 10 Americans will develop high blood pressure during their lifetime.
- Sex – Women are about as likely as men to develop high blood pressure at some point.
- Race or Ethnicity – African Americans develop high blood pressure more often than Caucasians, and earlier in life.
Medical Conditions that Can Raise Your Risk
If you have one or both of these conditions, you can take steps to manage them and lower your risk.
- Elevated Blood Pressure – Elevated blood pressure is blood pressure slightly higher than normal. High blood pressure usually develops over time. Elevated blood pressure increases your risk for chronic, or long-lasting, high blood pressure. If your blood pressure is between 120/80 mmHg and 129/80 mmHg, you have elevated blood pressure. You can take steps to manage your blood pressure and keep it in a healthy range.
- Diabetes – About 6 out of 10 people who have diabetes also have high blood pressure. Diabetes causes sugars to build up in the blood and increases the risk for heart disease. Talk with your provider about ways to manage diabetes and control other risk factors.
Preventing High Blood Pressure
Practice healthy living habits to help prevent high blood pressure! By living a healthy lifestyle, you can help keep your blood pressure in a healthy range. Preventing high blood pressure can lower your risk for heart disease and stroke. Follow these tips:
- Eat a Healthy Diet – Choosing healthy meal and snack options can help you avoid high blood pressure and its complications. Be sure to choose healthy meal and snack options and eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Keep Yourself at a Healthy Weight – Being overweight increases your risk for high blood pressure. Talk with your health care team about ways to reach a healthy weight.
- Be Physically Active – Physical activity can help keep you at a healthy weight and lower your blood pressure. Get at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week (about 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week).
- Don’t Smoke – Smoking raises your blood pressure and puts you at higher risk for heart attack and stroke. If you don’t smoke, don’t start! If you do smoke, quitting will lower your risk for heart disease. Your provider can suggest ways to help you quit.
- Limit How Much Alcohol You Drink – Drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure. Men should have no more than 2 alcoholic drinks per day, and women should have no more than 1 alcoholic drink per day.
- Get Enough Sleep – Getting enough sleep is important to your overall health, and enough sleep is part of keeping your heart and blood vessels healthy. Not getting enough sleep regularly can increase the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.
- Measure Your Blood Pressure on a Regular Basis – Measuring your blood pressure is an important step toward keeping it in a healthy range. Because high or elevated blood pressure often has no symptoms, checking it is the only way to know for sure!
How do I Know if I Need Medication?
It is important to regularly see your health care provider to stay up to date on any changes in your health and manage the onset of conditions. Your provider will tell you if you need medicine for high blood pressure, based on your readings over time. If you use a home blood pressure monitor, record your readings and share with your health care team.
Take Your Medication
If you take medicine to treat high blood pressure or other health conditions, follow your health care provider’s instructions carefully. Always ask questions if you do not understand something, and never stop taking your medicine without talking to your doctor or pharmacist first. Avoid stopping your blood pressure medicine without first talking to your health care team.
For More Information
For more details, visit the CDC’s High Blood Pressure site.