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October 15, 2014


What is Hypertension?

Hypertension is a condition in which a person’s blood pressure is higher than it should be. This can cause serious health problems if it is too high for too long.


Are there different types of high blood pressure?

Yes. Some types of hypertension are caused by other conditions such as kidney problems and endocrine abnormalities. The most common type, however is “essential hypertension”. Essential hypertension is that type that is NOT caused by another condition.


What could happen if my blood pressure is too high?

If blood pressure is too high for too long, you will be at greater risk for heart attack, eye damage, kidney damage, erectile dysfunction and stroke (just to name a few). In some instances, blood pressure will become so high that a person has to be hospitalized and the blood pressure be brought down in the Intensive care unit. This condition is called “Malignant Hypertension”


What should my blood pressure be?

Normal ADULT blood pressure should definitely be less than 140/90. The top number is the “Systolic” and the bottom number is referred to as the “diastolic”. There are certain circumstances in which blood pressure should be kept even lower than that.


What are some of these special circumstances?

Diabetics are at greater risk for vascular complications. For this reason, their blood pressure should be less than 130/80. Pregnant women usually should have their blood pressure kept lower than what is expected for non-pregnant individuals. There are other situations in which you blood pressure may need to be kept lower than that of the average individual. Talk to your doctor and find out what your blood pressure should be.


Can blood pressure be too low?

Yes. This is a condition called “hypotension”. However, different people have different levels at which low blood pressure is a problem and usually it is not of concern unless a person has symptoms such as dizziness or lightheadedness. Your doctor will let you know what your ideal range of blood pressure us.


Is it true that age and race makes a difference in blood pressure issues?

Yes. The incidence of hypertension goes up as we age. Persons of African descent are more likely to have hypertension. Also, salt sensitivity is more common among blacks.


Does stress really affect blood pressure?

Yes. In fact reducing stress is an important part of managing hypertension. The best evaluation of this has been performed by Dr. Herbert Benson, M.D. at Harvard. He has shown that using a technique that he calls the “Relaxation Response” can be a helpful adjunct in managing blood pressure.


My blood pressure is only high when I go to the doctor. What does this mean?

This condition is commonly referred to as “white coat hypertension”.  But even this type of hypertension should be treated.


How is hypertension treated?

Lifestyle management is always important—appropriate diet, exercise, and stopping smoking are good ways to start. As mentioned before, managing stress is an important part of treating hypertension. Also, controlling the amount of salt in your diet is important. Many people, however, need medications. The choice of when to start medication and which kind will be determined by your age, gender, genetic background,  other illnesses or symptoms that you have.


What kind of doctor specializes in managing blood pressure?

Essential Hypertension is a condition that is usually treated by the Primary Care Physician. However, under special circumstances you may be referred to a Hypertension specialist who will usually be a Nephrologist but sometimes may be a Cardiologist or Endocrinologist.



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