What is Hypertension?

Hypertension is another word for high blood pressure. When a doctor tests your blood pressure, they are looking for two things. They are monitoring how much blood your heart is pumping, and how much resistance that blood is facing within your arteries.

The more blood your heart has to pump, and the narrower your arteries are, the higher your blood pressure will be. A normal blood pressure measurement is 120 over 80. Anything at or above 140 over 90 indicates the onset of hypertension.

Symptoms of Hypertension

Blood tests are recommended at least every other year for patients age 18 and over. The reason for this is that having high blood pressure usually doesn’t lead to any noticeable symptoms.

When symptoms do finally become apparent, it usually means that the condition has reached a potentially life threatening level. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should contact a health care professional immediately:

  • Severe headaches
  • Mental confusion
  • Blurred vision
  • Frequent nosebleeds

The other type is called secondary hypertension. This condition appears suddenly and is usually more severe than primary hypertension. It is usually caused by an underlying condition, such as:

  • Kidney problems
  • Adrenal gland tumors
  • Congenital defects in the blood vessels
  • Menopause


Here is a list of other factors that may contribute to high blood pressure:

  • Age
  • Family medical history
  • Being overweight
  • Not exercising
  • Using tobacco
  • Excess of sodium
  • Deficiency of potassium
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Stress
  • Pregnancy
  • Chronic health issues
  • High cholesterol, diabetes, kidney disease, or sleep apnea

Risks of Hypertension

If left untreated, hypertension can lead to a number of severe health issues. Some of these include:

  • Memory problems
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Kidney problems
  • Vision loss
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Aneurysm
  • Heart failure

Hypertension Treatment

Doctors treat hypertension from a number of angles to assure that the condition is kept in check. The first step to treating high blood pressure properly is to detect it early, which is why many doctors recommend regular blood pressure screenings.

Your doctor may prescribe medication to treat your condition, but this is typically followed by a number of other techniques. Your doctor will likely encourage you to eliminate any negative lifestyle habits you may have by helping you quit smoking or limit your alcohol consumption.

A fitness program may help you lose weight, as well as diet plans that reduce the amount of sodium you consume. Your physician may also teach you relaxation techniques that can help you relieve tension and reduce any stress that could potentially lead to hypertension.


© 2023 National Kidney Foundation. All rights reserved. This material does not constitute medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. Please consult a physician for specific treatment recommendations.