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High Blood Pressure Education Month

written by Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse Written by Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse
Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse

Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse

Tessa is a MSN prepared Registered Nurse with 10 years of critical care experience in healthcare. When not practicing clinical nursing, she enjoys academic writing and is passionate about helping those affected by medical aliments live healthy lives.

Read more posts by this author.

May 17, 2022 Read Time - 6 minutes

May Is High Blood Pressure Education Month

May is High Blood Pressure Education Month. During this month, blood pressure is discussed as well as ways to reduce high blood pressure. The division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention (DHDSP) dedicated the month of May to High Blood Pressure Education Month to better educate the public about the risks of hypertension.

High blood pressure is often called the silent killer because it usually does not have any symptoms, but has already caused damage to your body. High Blood Pressure Education Month discusses ways to reduce high blood pressure, what numbers determine high blood pressure, and how to manage high blood pressure once diagnosed. 

High Blood Pressure Education Month is also called hypertension awareness month. This initiative is sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and recognized by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). National High Blood Pressure Education Month raises awareness about the impact of hypertension.

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What is High Blood Pressure?

The medical term for high blood pressure is called hypertension and is defined as abnormally high blood pressure measurements. The American Heart Association has set forth guidelines that determine normal, elevated, stage 1, stage 2, and crisis measurements. Normal blood pressure is defined as 120/80 or less. 

The following chart, based on information from the American Heart Association, will assist you in knowing your numbers related to blood pressure.

Blood Pressure CategorySystolic mmHg (upper number)Diastolic mmHg (lower number)
NormalLess than 120AndLess than 80
Elevated120-129AndLess than 80
High blood pressure (Hypertension) Stage 1130-139Or80-89
High blood pressure (Hypertension) Stage 2140 or higherOr90 or higher
Hypertensive CRISIS (consult your doctor immediately)Higher than 180And/orHigher than 120

What Is Considered High Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure readings above 120/80 are considered elevated. Sometimes falsely elevated readings will be observed during doctor visits which are termed “whitecoat hypertension.” Patients with this condition have high blood pressure simply because they are nervous about being at a doctor’s office. This is why doctors will often ask for self-monitoring readings as well as several in-office readings before diagnosing you with hypertension.

How to Read a Blood Pressure Monitor  

Blood pressure is measured using a device called a sphygmomanometer. A sphygmomanometer is the device often used in a doctor’s office. The blood pressure machine has three parts: 

  • A cuff that can be inflated with air
  • A pressure meter (manometer) for measuring air pressure in the cuff
  • A stethoscope for listening to the sound the blood makes as it flows through the brachial artery (the major artery found in your upper arm)

Luckily, blood pressure machines are available for at-home use. These machines are called self-measured blood pressure (SMBP) devices and do not require a stethoscope. The blood pressure is calculated automatically and displayed on the device’s screen.

You will see two numbers displayed on the device. The top number is called the systolic blood pressure, and the bottom number is called the diastolic blood pressure. These are classified by parts of your heart function. The first, or upper, number measures the pressure in your arteries when your heartbeats. The second, or lower, number measures the pressure in your arteries between beats.

You should pay attention to both numbers and write them down in your blood pressure journal. Accurate measurement of blood pressure is essential to diagnosing and managing hypertension.  

High Blood Pressure Symptoms and Causes        

High blood pressure can cause symptoms for some people because the increased pressure within their body causes physical signs to show. You can have high blood pressure for years without symptoms, which is why yearly screenings are so important. 

You may not have any symptoms or show some signs and symptoms of high blood pressure including:

  • Headaches
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nosebleed 

These signs and symptoms aren’t specific and usually don’t occur until high blood pressure has reached a severe or life-threatening stage.

The cause of high blood pressure includes several risk factors. Common risk factors for high blood pressure include:

  • Age
  • Race
  • Family history
  • Being overweight
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Tobacco use
  • Eating too much salt
  • Eating too little potassium
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Stress
  • Chronic conditions

There are two types of high blood pressure (hypertension), and each type has different causes. The first type of hypertension is primary (essential) hypertension and has no identifiable cause. This type of hypertension tends to develop gradually over the years. 

The second type of hypertension is called secondary hypertension because an underlying condition causes it. This type tends to appear suddenly and causes higher blood pressure than primary hypertension. The conditions that cause secondary hypertension include:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Kidney disease
  • Adrenal gland tumors
  • Thyroid problems
  • Certain defects you’re born with (congenital) in blood vessels
  • Certain medications, such as birth control pills, cold remedies, decongestants, over-the-counter pain relievers, and some prescription drugs
  • Illegal drugs, such as cocaine and amphetamines

How to Prevent High Blood Pressure

The best preventative measure for hypertension is to reduce modifiable risk factors. These are risk factors that you have control over. These are habits you can break or develop to reduce your risk of getting hypertension. Modifiable risk factors include:

  • Losing weight if you are overweight 
  • Quit smoking if you smoke
  • Reduce alcohol consumption
  • Exercise for 30 mins a day, five days a week
  • Eat a low salt/heart-healthy diet
  • Reducing stress by using relaxation techniques

Preventative measures can be utilized if you do not have hypertension or if you have already been diagnosed with hypertension. Either way, performing these preventive measures have overall health benefits.

  • Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

  • See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

  • Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.

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High Blood Pressure Treatment 

Sometimes, medications are necessary to treat high blood pressure. Along with lifestyle changes, hypertension medications are used to reduce your high blood pressure to normal and safe levels. Many people need to take medicine to help keep their blood pressure at healthy levels. There are many different blood pressure medications offered through prescription. 

If you have hypertension or need to speak to a doctor about your blood pressure, PlushCare offers high-quality care to manage hypertension. Talk to your PlushCare provider about your hypertension signs and symptoms.

If you are already diagnosed with high blood pressure, talk with your provider about hypertension treatment options. PlushCare doctors can prescribe hypertension medication online, and have it sent to your local pharmacy. 

Click here to book an appointment with a PlushCare doctor today.


Read More About High Blood Pressure


Sources:

PlushCare is dedicated to providing you with accurate and trustworthy health information.

American Heart Association. Understanding blood pressure readings. Accessed on May 8, 2021 from https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/understanding-blood-pressure-readings 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Prevent high blood pressure. Accessed on May 8, 2021 from https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/prevent.htm 

Mayo Clinic. High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Diagnosis and treatment. Accessed on May 21, 2021 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20373417 

Mayo Clinic. High Blood Pressure (Hypertension). Accessed on May 25, 2021 at https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/symptoms-causes/syc-20373410

Mayo Clinic. Video: How to measure blood pressure using a manual monitor. Accessed on May 25, 2021 at https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/multimedia/how-to-measure-blood-pressure/vid-20084748

Million Hearts. Self-Measured Blood Pressure (SMBP) Monitoring. Accessed on May 25, 2021 at https://millionhearts.hhs.gov/tools-protocols/smbp.html

Radiopaedia. Brachial Artery. Accessed on May 25, 2021 at https://radiopaedia.org/articles/brachial-artery?lang=us

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