The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
You have been diagnosed with hypertension, and you are willing to get the facts right about your condition? This is a good place to start: here, you can find all the necessary information to know and understand hypertension, its global impact, and its causes and consequences.
What is blood pressure?
First, let us consider blood pressure. The heart plays the role of a pump that moves blood throughout the body, which ensures that oxygen and nutrients are delivered to every tissue and organ. To do so, the heart generates a force to make blood run through the arteries, which is called BLOOD PRESSURE.1
Two main factors contribute to the variations of blood pressure:
The amount of blood pumped by the heart,
The amount of resistance to blood flow in the arteries.
The more blood the heart pumps and the narrower the arteries are, the higher the blood pressure is.2
How do we measure blood pressure?
Most of the time, it is your doctor or a nurse who will measure your blood pressure, for example, during a routine visit. To do so, they will use a sphygmomanometer. It is a pressure-measuring device (manometer) connected to an inflatable cuff that is wrapped around your upper arm. The doctor will inflate the cuff, and you will feel your arm being squeezed quite hard. The air in the cuff is then let out slowly, and you will feel the grip of the cuff lessen. Two different sphygmomanometers exist:
a manual one: The doctor or nurse inflates the cuff using a hand pump and then uses a stethoscope to listen
to your pulse.
a digital one: The cuff inflates and deflates automatically. The pulse is detected by a sensor inside the device.
To get an accurate measurement of your blood pressure, when a measurement is taken you should have rested for at least five minutes previously and be seated and silent.
What is hypertension?
When a physician or a nurse measures your blood pressure, the result is made up of two numbers.
The first one is called the systolic blood pressure. It corresponds to the highest blood pressure value, when the heart is contracting, and blood is expelled.
The second value is the diastolic blood pressure, which is the lowest blood pressure value. It is obtained when the heart muscle relaxes, and the heart chambers fill with blood.
➀ Systolic blood pressure when the heart contracts
➁ Diastolic blood pressure when the heart relaxes
Normal BP: 120-129/70-79 mmHg Hypertension: ≥ 140/90 mmHg Both values are expressed in the same unit, either in millimeters of mercury (mmHg, e.g. 120/80 mmHg), or in centimeters of mercury (e.g. 12/8 cmHg).3
Over time and with age, blood pressure rises, because the walls of large arteries become more rigid and the small blood vessels become narrower. Therefore, the heart has to generate a greater force to keep blood flowing around the body, leading to an increase in blood pressure, AKA HYPERTENSION.5
Why it is important to get checked
Hypertension is usually discovered fortuitously during a routine examination, but the first time someone finds out that they have high blood pressure is often when they are taken to hospital because it has led to a stroke or a heart problem. Indeed, hypertension is said to be a silent disease, because it often has no warning signs or symptoms, and many people do not know they have it. For that very reason, it is recommended that you get your blood pressure checked routinely at least every 5 years over 40 years of age, or more often if you have high blood pressure, in accordance with your health care team.3,6,7
It is important to get checked: meaningful global statistics
Around the world, hypertension aggects about 1.7 billion people. It is the leading global risk for death. Hypertension is responsible for 1 in 8 (12.8%) deaths worldwide.
of people with hypertension don’t know they have it.
I have been diagnosed with hypertension. Am I alone?
No, hypertension is a very common condition. High blood pressure generally develops progressively with advancing age, affecting more than 60% of people over 60 years old.4 Still, many young people are also being diagnosed with hypertension.8 For instance, in the USA as well as in France, roughly 1 in 3 adults has high blood pressure.8,9 It is therefore a very well-known condition, with well-defined management options. Once you know that you have high blood pressure, the good news is that you and your doctor can take steps to control it.
I have high blood pressure. Why is it so?
As we have already seen, age plays a major role in hypertension, but other risk factors can come into play. Let us review some of them.
Race or ethnicity: Black people develop hypertension more often than other ethnicities, and at a younger age.
Family history: Genetic factors likely play some role in high blood pressure and sharing a common environment and other potential factors may also increase the risk.10
Being overweight or obese.
A lack of physical activity.
Dietary factors: too much sodium, too much alcohol, or too little potassium.11
What lifestyle changes can I implement?
If you cannot do anything about your age or your genes, lifestyle interventions can help you keep your blood pressure lower and reduce your cardiovascular risk.
Start doing regular physical activity
Try to lose weight
Improve your diet
Reduce your alcohol consumption
I have high blood pressure. What am I at risk of?
The excessive pressure on your artery walls caused by high blood pressure can damage your blood vessels, as well as organs in your body. The higher your blood pressure and the longer it goes uncontrolled, the greater is the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases (stroke, heart disease, and heart failure). Other parts of the body, including the kidneys, limbs, and eyes, may also suffer damage.13
➀ Stroke High blood pressure can narrow or burst arteries that supply blood and oxygen to the brain, causing a stroke. Brain cells die during a stroke because they do not get enough oxygen.Stroke can cause serious disabilities in speech, movement, and other basic activities. A stroke can kill you. 14
➁ Heart diseases • Coronary artery diseases: due to fatty deposits, the main artery that supply your heart become clogged up.15 • Heart attack: the blood supply to your heart is blocked and heart muscle begins to die without enough oxygen.14
➂ Kidney failure High blood pressure can damage the arteries around the kidneys and interfere with their ability to filter blood effectively. 13
➃ Vision loss Due to damage in small blood vessels in the retina. 13
➄ Atherosclerosis This condition occurs when too much cholesterol plaque builds up in your arteries, causing them to narrow. 16
I have high blood pressure. Are there other conditions I should pay special attention to?
It can occur that the impact of a disease is worsened by concurrent conditions, called comorbid diseases, which require extra caution. Among those “bad friends” of hypertension, the main ones are:
Hypercholesterolemia: high levels of LDL-cholesterol in the blood are associated with an increased risk of CVDs, such as atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease;17
Type 2 diabetes mellitus: elevated blood sugar levels over a prolonged period of time lead to complications such as stroke, foot ulcers, and eye damage;18
-Coronary artery disease: atherosclerosis (the presence of cholesterol plaques) in the coronary arteries limits the blood flow to the heart, which leads to a lack of oxygen for myocardial cells. A common symptom is chest pain, AKA angina, which often occurs during exercise;19
Chronic kidney disease: when kidneys do not function properly over months or years, this can lead to complications such as cardiovascular disease, anemia (i.e., red cells in the blood are either insufficient, or they don’t function properly), or pericarditis (i.e., inflammation of the pericardium, the sac-like tissue that surrounds the heart, holds it in place and helps it work).20-22
How can I control my hypertension better?
MyBP Control is a mobile application specially made for helping hypertensive patients like you to live daily with hypertension.
Chart your blood pressure changes with MyBP Diary;
Control your adherence to your medication through tailored medication reminder;
And monitor your progress.
In this way, day by day, MyBP Control helps you to better control your hypertension.
WHO. Avoiding Heart Attacks and Strokes. 2005.
Mayet J, Hughes A. Cardiac and vascular pathophysiology in hypertension. Heart. 2003;89(9):1104-9.
CDC. Measuring Blood Pressure. 2019. Available at https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/measure.htm Accessed on 08 July 2019.
Williams B, Mancia G, Spiering W, et al. 2018 ESC/ESH Guidelines for the management of arterial hypertension. Eur Heart J. 2018 Sep 1;39(33):3021-3104.
Pollock JD, Makaryus AN. Physiology, Cardiovascular Hemodynamics. StatPearls Publishing; 2019.
CDC. About High Blood Pressure (Hypertension). 2018. Available at https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/about.htm Accessed on 08 July 2019.
NHS. High blood pressure (hypertension). 2019. Available at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/high-blood-pressure-hypertension/ Accessed on 08 July 2019.
CDC. High Blood Pressure FAQs. 2016. Available at https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/faqs.htm Accessed on 08 July 2019.
Perrine AL, Lecoffre C, Blacher J, Olié V. L’hypertension artérielle en France : prévalence, traitement et contrôle en 2015 et évolutions depuis 2006. Bull Epidémiol Hebd. 2018;(10):170-9.
CDC. Family History & Your Risk for High Blood Pressure (Hypertension). 2014. Available at https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/ family_history.htm Accessed on 08 July 2019.
CDC. Behaviors That Increase Risk for High Blood Pressure (Hypertension). 2014. Available at https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/ behavior.htm Accessed on 08 July 2019.
CDC. Preventing High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) – Healthy Living Habits. 2014. Available at https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/ healthy_living.htm Accessed on 08 July 2019.
American Heart Association. Health Threats From High Blood Pressure. 2019. Available at https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood- pressure/health-threats-from-high-blood-pressure Accessed on 08 July 2019.
CDC. Effects of High Blood Pressure (Hypertension). 2014. Available at https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/effects.htm Accessed on 08 July 2019.
NHS. Coronary heart disease. 2017. Available at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronary-heart-disease/ Accessed on 08 July 2019.
NHS. Atherosclerosis (arteriosclerosis). 2019. Available at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/atherosclerosis/ Accessed on 08 July 2019.
Ajar R. Risk Factors for Coronary Artery Disease: Historical Perspectives. Heart Views. 2017; 18(3): 109–114.
Deshpande AD, Harris-Hayes M, Schootman M. Epidemiology of diabetes and diabetes-related complications. Phys Ther. 200;88(11):1254-64.
National Institute of Health – National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Ischemic Heart Disease. Available at https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health- topics/ischemic-heart-disease Accessed on 08 July 2019.
Vaidya SR, Aeddula NR. Chronic Renal Failure. StatPearls Publishing; 2019.
American Society of Hematology. Anemia. 2019. Available at https://www.hematology.org/Patients/Anemia/ Accessed on 08 July 2019.
American Heart Association. What is Pericarditis? 2019. Available at https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/pericarditis/what-is-pericarditis Accessed on 08 July 2019.
Let us check how to interpret your blood pressure values.4
*Isolated systolic hypertension is also graded on a scale from 1 to 3, depending on the systolic blood pressure value, with the same cut-off values as “standard” hypertension.
2018 ESH/ESC Guidelines for the management of arterial hypertension4