Learn more about hypertension from nephrologist Leslie Thomas, M.D.
Hi. I'm Dr. Leslie Thomas, a nephrologist at Mayo Clinic. In this video, we'll cover the basics of hypertension. What is it? Who gets it? The symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment. Whether you're looking for answers for yourself or someone you love, we're here to give you the best information available. Hypertension means high blood pressure. A blood pressure measurement includes two numbers. Those numbers are the systolic blood pressure and the diastolic blood pressure. Because of the pumping action of the heart, the pressure within the arteries cycles between a higher pressure and a lower pressure. The higher pressure occurs during the contraction of the heart's left ventricle. The higher pressure is known as the systolic blood pressure. The lower pressure occurs during the relaxation of the heart's left ventricle. This lower pressure is referred to as the diastolic blood pressure.
Who gets it?
Hypertension is a very common condition affecting up to 40% of adults. It is one of the most common conditions for which medications are prescribed. Most people with hypertension have primary hypertension. How primary hypertension develops is not entirely understood. However, it has felt to result from many inherited and environmental factors that interact in complex ways within the body. Risks for the development of primary hypertension include family history, advancing age, obesity, high sodium diet, alcohol consumption and physical inactivity. In cases of hypertension in which a specific cause is identified, the term secondary hypertension is used. Many potential causes of secondary hypertension exist. These causes include certain prescription or over-the-counter medications, kidney disease, certain endocrine disorders, or a significant narrowing of the aorta or a kidney artery.
What are the symptoms?
Rarely, an individual with very high blood pressure may have symptoms. These symptoms might include shortness of breath, blurry vision or headache.
How is it diagnosed?
Hypertension can be diagnosed by performing careful and repeated measures of the blood pressure. Blood pressure categories include normal blood pressure, defined as a systolic pressure less than 120, and a diastolic pressure less than 80. Elevated blood pressure is defined as a systolic pressure 120 to 129, and a diastolic pressure less than 80. Hypertension is defined as systolic pressure greater than or equal to 130, or a diastolic pressure greater than or equal to 80.
How is it treated?
Treatment of hypertension involves lifestyle modification alone or in combination with antihypertensive medication therapy. For individuals with certain common conditions, including cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, and diabetes mellitus. Certain medications may be more advantageous to use compared to other medications. Deciding upon the best blood pressure to target, when to start antihypertensive medication therapy, and which specific medication or a combination of medications to utilize is highly individualized and informed by many factors.
You and your care team can work together to create the best treatment plan for you. No matter what methods you decide on. There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about managing your hypertension. If you'd like to learn even more about hypertension, watch our other related videos or visit mayoclinic.org. We wish you well.