If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, a doctor at Rush may recommend lifestyle changes, medication or a combination of both.
What Does High Blood Pressure Mean?
Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of arteries as the heart pumps blood. High blood pressure (hypertension) occurs when that force is too high and begins harming the heart and blood vessels.
Stress on the blood vessels makes people with hypertension more prone to certain other diseases, inluding heart failure, heart attack, stroke, kidney disease and aneurysms.
There are often no symptoms of high blood pressure, so most people who have it will find out during a routine visit to the doctor.
How Is Blood Pressure Measured?
Blood pressure is measured with two numbers:
- Systolic blood pressure (the top number) measures the force against the artery walls when the heart is contracting.
- Diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart is resting between beats.
Measurements fall into three categories:
- Normal: 120 mmHg/80 mmHg or lower
- At-risk: 120-139 mmHg/80-89 mmHg
- High: 140 mmHg or higher/90 mmHg or higher
High Blood Pressure Prevention
Hypertension is manageable — if you know you have it. That is why it is important to get your blood pressure checked regularly:
- Starting at 3 years old, children should have their blood pressure measured at all routine office visits.
- Adults should have their blood pressure checked at least every two years, or more often if they are at a higher risk of developing the condition.
Your doctor may recommend wearing a device at home called an ambulatory blood pressure monitor. This will show how your blood pressure varies during the day.
High Blood Pressure Treatment
If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, your doctor at Rush may recommend lifestyle changes, medication or a combination of both:
- Lifestyle changes may include the following:
- Healthy diet, mostly (if not exclusively) plant-based
- Quitting smoking
- Regular exercise
- Weight loss
- Commonly used types of medications for hypertension include the following:
- ACE inhibitors
- Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARB’s)
- Alpha blockers
- Beta blockers
- Calcium channel blockers
Rush Excellence in High Blood Pressure Care
- Among the best in the U.S.: U.S. News & World Report ranked Rush University Medical Center among the best in the nation for cardiology.
- From the simple to the most complex cases: Experts at Rush specialize in evaluating people whose high blood pressure is difficult to control.
- Secondary hypertension needs: Our prevention-driven cardiology team provides expert care for hypertension patients at high risk for developing heart disease and for patients with secondary hypertension — high blood pressure caused by another medical problem like kidney disease, thyroid disease or sleep apnea.
- Expertise in stroke prevention: High blood pressure can increase your risk of having a stroke. The Rush Stroke Prevention Clinic team can work with you on a prevention plan. Our experts tailor a prevention plan just for you, including ways to manage your risk factors.