When Is Your Blood Pressure Too High?

One of the most asked questions I get is what blood pressure is too high. 

So I’m going to answer that question in this video. 

Blood pressure is the result of two forces. 

The first force occurs as blood pumps out of the heart and into your arteries and the rest of your circulatory system.

This is called systolic pressure and is represented by the top number of your blood pressure reading.

The second force is created as the heart rests between heart beats.  

This is called diastolic pressure and is represented by the bottom number of your blood pressure reading.

When someone is experiencing high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, it means blood flows through the blood vessels with higher than normal pressure against the blood vessel walls. 

High blood pressure is caused by something that is blocking the arteries, and so the pressure of the blood flow, against the blood vessel walls increases, in order to push your blood through your body.

High blood pressure is a common condition, but it can also be extremely dangerous, because it increases the chances of heart disease and stroke. 

When your blood pressure gets extremely high, you may experience symptoms such as, dizziness, headaches, chest pains, problems with your eyesight, nosebleeds, as well as shortness of breath. 

However, the majority of people never experience any symptoms when they have high blood pressure, which is why it’s often called the silent killer. 

That’s why you should regularly check your blood pressure, to be sure that the numbers are within a healthy range. 

So let’s talk about what actually constitutes high blood pressure.

The New High Blood Pressure Guidelines

In 2017, new guidelines from the American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology, and nine other health organizations, lowered the numbers for what is considered high blood pressure. 

The original threshold for high blood pressure was 140/90 or higher for people under the age of 65 and 150/80 for people over the age of 65. 

Under the NEW guidelines for high blood pressure, you are considered to have high blood pressure when your readings are 130/80 or higher for all adults.

Now that the blood pressure threshold has been lowered, more people will be identified as having high blood pressure. 

In fact, this means that over 70% of men, ages 55 and older, are now classified as having high blood pressure. 

Because of the new blood pressure guidelines, more people will be diagnosed with high blood pressure earlier, so they’ll be able to treat it earlier, thus saving more lives.

The 5 Blood Pressure Ranges

The new blood pressure guidelines actually have five different blood pressure ranges. 

The first range is considered a normal blood pressure range, which is 120 over 80, or less.

This range is considered normal for senior adults and younger adults.

The second range is considered, “elevated blood pressure.”

Elevated blood pressure is when the systolic pressure or top number is between 120 and 129, and the diastolic pressure or bottom number is 80 or less.

Although these numbers are not considered high blood pressure, it shows that you are headed that way, which increases your risk of heart disease or stroke.

Doctors do not prescribe medications when a person has elevated blood pressure, but they do recommend you begin changing to a more healthier lifestyle. 

Basically, they recommend you stop smoking, adopt a healthy, plant-based, whole food diet and start doing some form of exercising. 

Changing your lifestyle can dramatically lower your blood pressure, sometimes to the point, in which you don’t need any blood pressure medications. 

The third range is called, “High Blood Pressure Stage 1” or “Hypertension Stage 1.” 

This is the stage in which you officially have high blood pressure and are at a high risk for heart disease or stroke.

Stage 1 is when your systolic number, or top number is between 130 and 139, and your diastolic reading or bottom number is between 80 and 89.

By the way, just because your blood pressure reached these numbers one time, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have high blood pressure. 

What determines the stage of high blood pressure you’re experiencing is taking your blood pressure reading over a period of time.

Often, after a month or so of living a healthy lifestyle, if your blood pressure doesn’t go down, your doctor will often prescribe blood pressure medications to help lower your blood pressure.

If you’re older than 65 years old, and you have other medical complications, your doctor will most likely prescribe a treatment for you, on a case by case basis. 

The fourth blood pressure range is called, “High Blood Pressure Stage 2” or “Hypertension Stage 2.” 

If you reach this stage, it indicates you may have a more serious condition.

High Blood Pressure Stage 2 is when your systolic number is above 140 and your diastolic number is above 90.

If you reach this stage, your doctor will most likely prescribe blood pressure medication to keep your blood pressure under control.

But if you reach this stage, don’t just rely on blood pressure meds alone to help bring down your blood pressure readings. 

You must start practicing healthy habits, such as eating portion controlled, plant-based whole foods and daily exercising. 

Your exercising doesn’t need to be strenuous. 

It can be as simple as a 30 minute, brisk walk every day. 

And if it’s too hot outside, or it’s raining, you can go on the internet, and find a walking workout video on youtube to help take you through a walking workout. 

Types of Blood Pressure Medications

Here are some different medications that might be prescribed by your doctor to control your blood pressure, in addition to living a healthy lifestyle. 

  1. ACE inhibitors to block substances that tighten blood vessels
  1. Alpha-blockers used for relaxing arteries
  1. Beta-blockers to decrease heart rate and block substances that tighten blood vessels
  1. Calcium channel blockers to relax blood vessels and decrease the work of the heart
  1. Diuretics to decrease the amount of fluid in your body, including your blood vessels

Those are some of the blood pressure meds your doctor might prescribe to help you decrease your blood pressure. 

The last and final blood pressure range is called, “Hypertensive Crisis.” 

And if your blood pressure is in the Hypertensive Crisis range, it’s an emergency situation.

You need to call your doctor immediately or check yourself in at the local hospital.

The Hypertensive Crisis range is when your systolic blood pressure, or the top number is 180 or over, and your diastolic number, or the bottom number is 120 or over. 

If your blood pressure is in this range, it means that you have a serious health problem that requires immediate care from a medical professional.

In the Hypertensive Crisis range you might experience chest pain, shortness of breath, symptoms of stroke, such as paralysis or a loss of muscle control in the face or in your arms or legs, blood in your urine, dizziness or a severe headache.

Remember, always take three blood pressure readings and average the last two readings to get an accurate blood pressure reading. 

If your blood pressure is in the Hypertensive Crisis range after a second round of blood pressure testing, you’ll need to get treatment as soon as possible.

High Blood Pressure in Pregnant Women

In about eight percent of pregnant women, it’s possible to suffer from high blood pressure while being pregnant. 

The readings that are considered high for a pregnant woman are above 140 for the systolic number and 90 for the diastolic.

When you’re pregnant, the normal blood pressure numbers should be below 120 for the systolic number and below 80 for the diastolic number. 

If you suffer from high blood pressure during pregnancy, you might get prescription medicines from your doctor to help control your blood pressure. 

The following are the two main forms of high blood pressure during pregnancy:

  1. Hypertensive Disorders of Pregnancy 

These are hypertension disorders that specifically affect pregnant women, and mostly develop prior to twenty weeks of pregnancy. 

These high blood pressure disorders don’t go on after birth.

They mostly end after you’ve given birth. 

  1. Chronic Hypertension

For this type of hypertension disorder, a woman would typically develop high blood pressure before they are even pregnant. 

In other cases, it can also develop before you hit the twenty-week mark during pregnancy. 

High Blood Pressure in Children

It’s not uncommon for children to suffer from high blood pressure. 

Both infants and teenagers can develop high blood pressure. 

If your child is under six years old, and they have high blood pressure, it’s usually caused by another condition.

Children over six years old can develop high blood pressure for the same reasons as adults do, like being overweight or obese.

The healthy blood pressure ranges for children depend on factors like their gender, age, and height as well. 

The following are typical healthy blood pressure ranges for children.

Newborn – between 60-90 for systolic and 20-60 for diastolic

Infant – 87-105 for systolic and 53-65 for diastolic

Toddler – 95-105 for systolic and 53-66 for diastolic

Preschooler – 95-110 for systolic and 56-70 for diastolic 

School-aged – 97-112 for systolic and 57-71 for diastolic

Adolescent – 112-128 for systolic and 66-80 for diastolic

Your child’s blood pressure should always be checked during your routine wellness appointments for your child, starting at age three.

7 Ways to Prevent High Blood Pressure

As you grow older, preventing high blood pressure becomes more important. 

Your systolic pressure, the upper number, will tend to creep higher as you get past 50 years of age.

Your upper number is a better predictor of the risk of coronary heart disease and other conditions.

Here’s seven ways you can prevent high blood pressure. 

1. Start eating a plant-based, whole foods diet.

Cut out greasy fried foods and any processed foods and sugars. 

2. Reduce your caffeine intake.

Caffeine can drive up your blood pressure over years of repeated high use and can cause anxiety, insomnia, and a rapid heart beat among other issues.

3. Start exercising.

Consistent exercising for about 30 minutes a day can dramatically help in reducing your blood pressure. 

Sports like yoga, swimming, walking, tennis or weight lifting are all great forms of exercise.

4. Maintain a healthy weight

If you’re overweight or obese, now is the time to start striving to lose weight.

Even losing 5 to 10 pounds can make a big difference on your blood pressure readings.

5. Manage your stress.

Anything you can do to stay calm and relaxed will help to reduce your stress and lower your blood pressure. 

6. Lower your alcohol intake and quit smoking

This should go without saying, but smoking is extremely harmful to your health.

And drinking alcohol can also increase your blood pressure. 

Having one drink isn’t bad for your health, but excessive drinking always starts with one drink. 

Conclusion

If you’re an adult, and your blood pressure reading is 130/80 or higher, you officially have high blood pressure. 

When your blood pressure hits this range, you’ll need to start making lifestyle changes to prevent it from continuing to rise. 

If your blood pressure rises to this level, and healthy lifestyle changes are not bringing your blood pressure down, you’ll probably need the help of blood pressure medications to control your blood pressure levels. 

I hope I’ve answered your question about how high is too high, when it comes to your blood pressure.

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