High blood pressure: What does hypertension mean, what values does it have, manifestations?

High blood pressure: What does hypertension mean, what values does it have, manifestations?
Photo source: Getty images

High blood pressure is more often found in its primary form, when its cause is not exactly known. Secondary hypertension is then a symptom of another disease.

High blood pressure is professionally referred to as hypertension.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines high blood pressure as:

Arterial systemic hypertension in adulthood refers to a condition in which there is a sustained increase in blood pressure above 140/90 mmHg. Such elevated blood pressure must be measured by several independent measurements, at least twice.

It is the most common cardiovascular disease, reportedly affecting up to 25% of the world's population.

Do we know what blood pressure is?

We are all familiar with the term blood pressure.

Blood pressure is the hydrostatic pressure exerted by blood against the walls of blood vessels. It is created when blood is forced (pushed) out of the heart into the blood vessels.

The heart is a muscular pump that pumps oxygenated blood throughout the body.

Peak blood pressure is also referred to as systolic blood pressure.

This is produced when the heart muscle contracts and expels blood into the aorta. Its value should not be higher than 140 mmHg.

On the other hand, diastolic blood pressure is present when the heart muscle relaxes and blood is drawn into the heart.

It is the lowest value of pressure, which should not be higher than 90 mmHg.

Systolic blood pressure is recorded first and diastolic blood pressure second.

Systolic blood pressure before the slash 120 / 80 diastolic blood pressure after the slash.

Blood pressure is not the same throughout the day. Its level varies based on various factors. These include physical or mental activity, exertion and rest, sleep, body position, time of day - circadian rhythm.

It is quite normal for blood pressure to rise gradually with age.

You can also learn more about blood pressure in the articles:

High blood pressure breaks down...

Hypertension is divided into primary and secondary forms.

The primary form is a disease that does not have a precisely identified cause. Various risk factors are involved in the development of this type. It is therefore also referred to as multifactorial.

Some risk factors are influential and others are not influential.

Examples of the uncontrollable ones are older age, gender, genetic predisposition or vasomotor dysregulation.

Of those that can be influenced by humans, examples include overweight and obesity, smoking, excessive stress or generally improper lifestyle. And environmental or air pollution also have a negative effect.

Do you know the difference between overweight and obesity?

What are the values of hypertension?

We speak of high blood pressure when its values are above 140/90 for a long time.

However, higher blood pressure values can vary in degree and severity.

The table shows the division of hypertension according to its severity

Name Systolic blood pressure value
in mmHg
Diastolic blood pressure value
in mmHg
Normal blood pressure 120-120 80-84
High normal blood pressure
- Prehypertension
130-139 85-89
Grade 1 hypertension - mild 140-159 90-99
Hypertension grade 2 - moderate 160-179 100-109
Grade 3 hypertension - severe 180-209 110-120
Hypertension grade 4 - very severe 210 and more 120 or more
Isolated systolic hypertension if only systolic blood pressure is elevated more than 140 less than 90

Interesting information: summary table of blood pressure values

What are the causes of high blood pressure?

Primary (essential) hypertension has no known cause. Unlike secondary hypertension, which is the result of another health problem.

Common elevations in blood pressure

It is perfectly normal for a person to have their blood pressure measured under certain conditions that are not morbid.

Blood pressure is affected by physical exertion. It rises during manual labor, brisk walking, walking up stairs, running, hiking, sports activity.

It is important that subsequently at rest it gradually subsides.

Also, blood pressure rises with mental or psychological stress. If someone gets angry, has long-term work stress, problems in the family and so on.

Long-term stress is behind the development of other health problems besides hypertension.
Irritable bowel syndrome or tetany is an example.

Hypertension - risk of other problems

Prolonged elevated blood pressure has a negative impact on the entire organism. When it persists, the cardiovascular system itself, the eyes, the kidneys and the entire human body suffer.

The table lists the stages of hypertension according to the effect on the body

Stage Description
Stage I
  • Hypertension has not yet caused organic changes
Stage II
  • for chronic occurrence causing changes to organs and organ systems
  • changes do not yet cause organ dysfunction
  • examples are the eyes, blood vessels, enlargement of the left ventricle of the heart
Stage III

Hypertensive crisis

A condition of severe and acute form of rise in blood pressure threatening a person's health and life.

Blood pressure rises above 210/130.

The condition of the crisis is the presence of other problems. Examples are neurological symptoms (dizziness, vomiting, impaired balance or mobility), chest pain, visual impairment. Serious complications are stroke, heart failure or heart muscle infarction.

It is often caused by inadequate or neglected treatment of high blood pressure.
Possibly secondary hypertension.
Read also the article Hypertensive crisis.

Heart-shaped phonendoscope placed on the ECG recording
Hypertension as a risk factor for heart problems. Photo source: Getty Images

Pain as a cause of higher blood pressure

Pain is an example of a different, not long-term cause of hypertension.

Pain will also increase blood pressure values. This negative subjective sensation is unpleasant but necessary. Pain is a protection against damage to the organism or part of it.

It arises as a result of the action of various forces or other damaging agents. These act either externally on the body (in the case of a burn or injury) or internally, as a mediation of the symptom of disease.

Pain is a symptom of various diseases. It is often the first to occur.

Pain originates in the central nervous system - the brain. The sensation of pain is mediated by nerve endings in the skin or in internal organs.

Pain can be acute (which occurs suddenly) or chronic (which is long-lasting). Superficial pain is well localised, for example on the skin.

Visceral or deep somatic pain, on the other hand, is more difficult to delineate. It is often transmitted to sites other than where it originates. We also know of phantom pain, which is felt from the site of the amputated body part.

Secondary hypertension

This type of hypertension is also referred to as symptomatic. It is a condition where there is a known organic cause for the increase in blood pressure.

It affects approximately 5-15% of those affected with hypertension. The other cases are represented by the essential form.

The most common causes of secondary hypertension are:

  • Hormonal, such as pheochromocytoma, primary Aldosterism, Cushing's syndrome, hyperthyroidism, acromegaly
    • Diseases of the endocrine system (endocrine glands) - adrenal glands (medulla or cortex), pituitary gland
  • pregnancy and pre-eclampsia or eclampsia
  • kidney disease such as inflammation, tumour, as a result of trauma
  • renovascular, pathological narrowing of renal vessels - renal artery stenosis
  • neurological, such as in stroke
  • mechanical damage, such as coarctation of the aorta, a congenital narrowing of the aorta
  • drugs, such as glucocorticoids, hormonal contraceptives, sympathomimetics

Commonly and freely available nose drops can also increase blood pressure - especially their excessive and prolonged use.

What else affects the increase in blood pressure?

In addition to organic damage, there are risk factors that aggravate hypertension or increase the likelihood of its onset.

These include:

  • Smoking
  • overweight and obesity - especially with a BMI above 30
  • diabetes
  • impaired fat metabolism, elevated cholesterol
  • excessive dietary intake, i.e. overeating
  • excess intake of salts and Na (sodium) in diet and fluids (highly mineralised water)
  • deficiency of magnesium (Mg, magnesium), potassium (K, potassium) or calcium (Ca, calcium) in the diet
  • lack of physical activity
  • excessive stress levels, prolonged psychological stress
  • fatigue and lack of sleep
  • alcoholism
  • snoring and sleep apnoea
  • low birth weight
  • drug use, cocaine, amphetamine
  • environmental pollution

Be careful during pregnancy

High blood pressure in pregnancy along with swelling can signal pre-eclampsia. This is risky for the pregnant woman but also for the fetus.

In the case of pregnancy, it is talked about if:

Systolic blood pressure rises above 140 mmHg.


Diastolic blood pressure is above 90 mmHg.


+ It is also referred to as hypertension when the blood pressure rises by:

  1. systole 25 mmHg
  2. diastole 15 mmHg
  3. compared to pre-pregnancy blood pressure values

5-7% of pregnant women have what is known as gestational hypertension.
Up to 20% of first-time mothers may have hypertension.

Therefore, blood pressure measurement during doctor's visits is important. It is important to alert the doctor (gynaecologist) when accidentally measuring hypertension at home.

Do not overlook these symptoms in pregnancy:

  1. headache
  2. visual disturbance
  3. nausea (vomiting sensations)
  4. to vomiting
  5. swelling, first starting in the legs and around the ankles, later progressing higher up

Hypertension in childhood

It occurs at a lower rate in childhood. It is reported to be 1-2% in the age group 10 to 16 years. The percentage rises to 15 in the case of young people from 20 to 30 years of age.

As in adulthood, childhood is also a risk factor for the development of various problems and later diseases. This is especially true for atherosclerosis or other cardiovascular diseases and kidney damage. Therefore, its early detection is very important.

Primary hypertension occurs at a lower rate compared to secondary. The most common causes are obesity, but also kidney problems.

Read also.

Definition of hypertension in children:

A rise in blood pressure above the 95th percentile of the value for a given age, sex, and height.

Of course, the measured value must be confirmed in 3 independent measurements. It is important to follow the guidelines when measuring blood pressure. The correct position of the child during measurement, appropriate cuff placement and width, and rest before measurement are important.

When evaluating blood pressure and hypertension in children, so-called percentile charts are used.

Symptoms in general

Hypertension is dangerous because it can occur asymptomatically for a long time. It is this characteristic that makes it a tricky companion of human health.

It is often referred to as the silent killer.
Its first symptom may be an acute heart attack or stroke.

An elderly man measures his blood pressure on his wrist and is horrified at the sight of a blood pressure monitor
We can detect it on random examination. Source of the photograph: Getty Images

When blood pressure rises, it occurs:

  1. fatigue and general weakness
  2. headache
  3. dizziness
  4. impaired balance and mobility
  5. visual disturbance - blurred, blurred, double vision
  6. tinnitus or other hearing problems
  7. tingling in the limbs
  8. redness and hot flushes
  9. increased sweating
  10. nausea, heaviness in the stomach
  11. a feeling of nausea or vomiting
  12. body trembling, shivering
  13. nosebleeds(epistaxis)
  14. chest pain, vague chest discomfort
  15. heart palpitations
  16. difficulty breathing
  17. swelling
  18. sleep disturbance

Diagnosis and treatment in brief

History, family history and other risk factors are important in the diagnosis. The person concerned always describes his or her difficulties. Blood pressure is measured repeatedly, and a 24-hour measurement, the so-called Holter pressure monitor, is added.

It is important to examine the whole body and to detect the consequences of hypertension.

Therefore, an ECG, ECHO, X-ray, sonography, CT or MRI (depending on the need and the problems encountered), an eye examination, specifically a background eye examination, are added. Plus, blood and urine are taken for laboratory tests.

Treatment and important cautions.

If a person has hypertension and is taking medication - do not self-adjust treatment.
Do not skip prescribed therapy.
The acute form (hypertensive crisis) is a risk.

Trying home treatment or various grandmotherly advice will not help. Medication therapy is necessary.

Drugs from different groups are used. Especially their combination is beneficial.

Combination therapy includes:

  • antihypertensives, vasodilators
  • ACEIs - angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors
  • beta-blockers
  • calcium channel blockers
  • diuretics
  • angiotensin receptor blockers

How to prevent hypertension or help with long-term treatment

In addition to the above pharmacological treatments, adjustments at the lifestyle level are also necessary.

Measures such as:

  • weight reduction - for overweight and obesity
  • reduction of salt intake (5-6 mg per day), sodium (Na)
  • sufficient magnesium, potassium and calcium in the diet and fluids
  • less fatty and heavy foods
  • eating regularly, several times during the day and smaller portions
  • a rational and balanced diet
  • adequate physical activity
  • adequate drinking
  • reducing stress levels
  • rest, relaxation, sleep, holidays
  • adequate treatment of associated diseases
  • alcohol restriction
  • stopping smoking
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Interesting resources

  • sav.sk - How alcohol and coffee affect high blood pressure
  • kardioklub.biznisweb.sk - arterial and renovascular hypertension and first aid for high blood pressure
  • solen.sk - Hypertension in childhood
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