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Hypertension — or high blood pressure — means the pressure inside your blood vessels is too high. Your doctor will take two measurements to screen you for high blood pressure. Systolic blood pressure is the top blood pressure number. It measures the pressure when your heart is contracting and pushing blood through your body. It should be less than 120. Diastolic blood pressure is the bottom blood pressure number. It measures pressure when your heart is relaxing and filling with blood. This number should be less than 80.
Hypertension affects between 70 and 80 million Americans, but only half of these people have their hypertension under control. Uncontrolled, hypertension raises your risk for serious cardiovascular conditions, including heart disease, aneurysm, heart attack, stroke, and organ damage.
If you need to lower your blood pressure, the heart care specialists at Dignity Health Southern California can help. Find a Doctor near you to learn more about treating hypertension in Southern California. We have several state-of-the-art heart care programs in Long Beach, Northridge, Downtown LA, Glendale, and San Bernardino that can offer you personal care.
There are two types of hypertension. Primary hypertension (or essential hypertension) is the most common type. It has no known cause and develops slowly over time. Secondary hypertension is caused by another underlying medical condition, such as thyroid disease, kidney problems, or certain medications. This type of blood pressure is often reversible when the underlying cause is treated.
Certain risk factors increase the likelihood of developing primary hypertension, including:
Hypertension usually has no noticeable symptoms, even when blood pressure readings are dangerously high. As a result, it can go undetected for years causing irreversible damage to your body. To avoid this, the American Heart Association recommends regular blood pressure checks every two years starting at age 20.
Your blood pressure reading usually returns to normal when you treat the underlying cause of secondary hypertension. Treatment for primary hypertension typically involves lifestyle changes and medications. Talk to your doctor today about ways to have a healthy blood pressure and protect your heart.
Dignity Health provides specialized care for cardiovascular conditions, including hypertension, in Southern California.