Blood pressure is the force your blood is pumping through your vessels.
High blood pressure, or hypertension, makes your heart work harder to push blood through the vessels at a higher pressure
To request an appointment, contact the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute:
Blood pressure is the force with which blood is pumping through blood vessels.
It's measured by two numbers: the systolic pressure and the diastolic pressure. These show the pressure of blood when your heart contracts and when it's at rest.
High blood pressure (hypertension) causes your heart to work harder than normal to push blood through the vessels at a higher pressure. High blood pressure is above 140/90 mmHg.
Some risk factors are out of your control, such as age and race.
But for many people, lifestyle factors lead to an increased risk of hypertension.
Causes of high blood pressure include:
The effects of high blood pressure are dangerous for your overall health, as it puts more strain on your heart.
High blood pressure can:
We offer heart screening programs throughout the community and a full range of services to manage all types of heart conditions.
Doctors call hypertension a "silent killer" because it damages your body, often without causing symptoms.
If your blood pressure gets dangerously high, it can cause vision problems and headaches.
Many people learn they have high blood pressure at screening programs or routine doctor visits.
The doctor checks your systolic and diastolic pressure during blood pressure tests and puts it in a range.
Normal blood pressure
Stage 1 hypertension
Stage 2 hypertension
Many factors can raise your blood pressure. Your doctor makes the diagnosis of high blood pressure after repeated blood pressure readings at different times.
UPMC offers free heart screening programs and events as well as complete care for a range of heart conditions.
The first step to treat prehypertension and hypertension is to make lifestyle changes. Keeping your blood pressure in check is a lifelong process.
Your doctor will show you how to lower high blood pressure and may also prescribe medicine if lifestyle changes alone aren't enough.
Maintaining a heart-healthy lifestyle is the best way to naturally lower blood pressure.
Your doctor will suggest the following to improve your high blood pressure and overall health:
If you have stage 2 hypertension, you will need medicine to bring your pressure down to a safer level.
If you've tried lifestyle changes and still struggle with high blood pressure, your doctor may prescribe drugs.
Sometimes one drug is enough to treat your high blood pressure. In other cases, you may need more than one pill to manage your condition.
Some blood pressure medications include: