What causes high blood pressure?

Heart Health
Feb 19, 2019

Primary Care Physician Dr. Russell Pacquette explains the good and bad about hypertension

If you had a condition that could potentially lead to heart failure, a heart attack or a stroke, wouldn’t you want to do something about it? Well, if that condition is high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, the good news is you can do something about it.

Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the artery walls. The force is created with each heartbeat as blood is pumped through the arteries. Arteries carry blood from the heart to other organs, explains Dr. Russell Pacquette, internal medicine physician with St. Joseph’s/Candler Primary Care located on Eisenhower Drive.

DrPacquetteWhen you have your blood pressure checked, the reading comes back as two numbers: systolic  and diastolic.

The top number, or systolic pressure, is the amount of pressure in your arteries when your heart muscle is contracting, forcing blood through your circulatory system.

The bottom number, or diastolic pressure, is the amount of pressure in your arteries when your heart is at rest, between beats.

Related Article: Understanding your blood pressure reading

Both numbers are important in determining whether your blood pressure is at a healthy level. Your blood pressure is considered elevated  when systolic pressure ranges from 120-129 and diastolic pressure is less than 80. Your blood pressure is considered high when systolic exceeds 130 and diastolic is greater than 80.

What causes high blood pressure?

There are many contributing factors to high blood pressure, Dr. Pacquette says, including:

  • Stress
  • Age
  • Genetics
  • Too much salt in your diet
  • Lack of exercise
  • Being overweight
  • Smoking
  • Sleep apnea
  • Kidney disease

There’s good news and bad news associated with high blood pressure. The bad news is that high blood pressure usually has no signs or symptoms. This is why physicians stress the importance of annual wellness visits and routine blood pressure checks. Often your neighborhood pharmacy or fire department will offer free blood pressure checks.

Related Article: Are you seeing a healthcare provider annually?

The good news is that high blood pressure can be controlled and even reversed, Dr. Pacquette says. There are several ways to lower your blood pressure including:

  • Reduce the amount of salt in your diet, preferably less than 2,000 milligrams a day
  • Weight loss
  • Avoid drinking too much alcohol
  • Stop smoking
  • Exercise at least 30 minutes a day most days of the week

High blood pressure is not something that should be ignored or taken lightly. Uncontrolled hypertension can lead to a variety of complications including heart disease and stroke, Dr. Pacquette says.

If it’s time for you to have your blood pressure checked through an annual wellness visit, make an appointment with one of our many St. Joseph’s/Candler Primary Care physicians located across the region.


Coming Thursday
Have diabetes or know someone who does? Come back Thursday to learn about diabetes impact on high blood pressure.


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