High blood pressure, or hypertension, occurs when your blood pressure increases to unhealthy levels. Your blood pressure measurement takes into account how much blood is passing through your blood vessels and the amount of resistance the blood meets while the heart is pumping.

Narrow arteries increase resistance. The narrower your arteries are, the higher your blood pressure will be. Over the long term, increased pressure can cause health issues, including heart disease.

BLOOD PRESSURE CATEGORYSYSTOLIC mm Hg
(upper number)
 DIASTOLIC mm Hg
(lower number)
NORMALLESS THAN 120andLESS THAN 80
ELEVATED120 – 129andLESS THAN 80
HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
(HYPERTENSION) STAGE 1
130 – 139or80 – 89
HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
(HYPERTENSION) STAGE 2
140 OR HIGHERor90 OR HIGHER
HYPERTENSIVE CRISIS
(consult your doctor immediately)
HIGHER THAN 180and/orHIGHER THAN 120

What are the symptoms of hypertension?

Hypertension is generally a silent condition. Many people won’t experience any symptoms. It may take years or even decades for the condition to reach levels severe enough that symptoms become obvious. Even then, these symptoms may be attributed to other issues.

Symptoms of severe hypertension can include:

  • headaches
  • shortness of breath
  • nosebleeds
  • flushing
  • dizziness
  • chest pain
  • visual changes
  • blood in the urine

These symptoms require immediate medical attention. They don’t occur in everyone with hypertension, but waiting for a symptom of this condition to appear could be fatal.

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