High Blood Pressure
Find a Hypertension Specialist
High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is a common heart condition in which a person’s blood pressure remains abnormally elevated for a sustained period of time.
Almost half of adults in the U.S. have high blood pressure. But, since high blood pressure doesn’t cause obvious signs or symptoms, many people don’t even know they have it.
- If you have untreated high blood pressure, it can significantly increase your risk of:
- Heart attack
- Heart failure
- Kidney disease
- Vision loss
- Sexual dysfunction
Because high blood pressure can lead to life-threatening health conditions, it’s one of the most common contributing causes of death in the U.S. every year.
Our Approach to Treating High Blood Pressure
If you have high blood pressure, our cardiologists specializing in hypertension can help get your blood pressure under control and ensure it stays well-managed over time.
Our cardiologists also have extensive experience managing treatment-resistant hypertension — a condition in which your blood pressure remains high despite treatment with three or more antihypertensive medications.
How We Help Prevent High Blood Pressure
Heart and vascular specialists at Houston Methodist don’t just treat and manage high blood pressure — we’re also committed to preventing high blood pressure from developing in the first place.
Our cardiologists can help you understand how to prevent heart disease, which often starts with choosing lifestyle behaviors that can help control your blood pressure.
In addition, experts in our Cardiovascular Prevention and Wellness Program can help you understand your risk for high blood pressure, as well as how to reduce your risk.
About High Blood Pressure
Who Is Most at Risk for Developing High Blood Pressure?
Risk factors for hypertension include:
- Age – risk increases significantly after 45 for men and after 65 for women
- Family history of hypertension
- Race – in particular, African Americans are at increased risk
- Obesity – which causes the body to use more blood
- Sedentary lifestyle – which raises the heart rate and can lead to obesity
- Smoking – which damages the lining of the artery walls
- Too much sodium – which causes the body to retain fluid
- Too little potassium – causing an overabundance of sodium
- Excessive alcohol use – more than two drinks per day
- Chronic stress – which can have lasting effects on blood pressure
Healthy lifestyle behaviors that can help reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure include:
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Exercising regularly
- Eating a healthy diet
- Avoiding sodium
- Limiting alcohol consumption
- Controlling stress
- Quitting smoking, if you smoke
What Are the Symptoms of High Blood Pressure?
Hypertension is largely a condition with no symptoms.
When blood pressure reaches exceedingly high levels (known as hypertensive crisis), symptoms can include:
- Severe headache
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Vision changes
Because high blood pressure is most often a silent disease, it’s important to have your blood pressure checked regularly and to take steps to keep your blood pressure within the normal range.
How Is High Blood Pressure Detected?
The only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to have your blood pressure checked. Your blood pressure is measured every time you go to your doctor’s office, but you can also measure your blood pressure yourself at a blood pressure kiosk or using a blood pressure cuff at home.
Blood pressure is considered normal if it’s less than 120/80. Your blood pressure is considered elevated or high if it’s 120/80 or higher.
If you’re self-monitoring your blood pressure and your numbers are consistently high, schedule an appointment with your doctor.
How Is High Blood Pressure Treated?
In early stages, elevated blood pressure can be managed by making lifestyle modifications.
If your blood pressure is already considered high, medications may be needed to help lower it. The type of medication prescribed depends on the stage of high blood pressure and whether you have other medical problems.
Many different classes of hypertension drugs are available. Common types include:
- Diuretics (also known as water pills) to lower the blood volume
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors to help relax your blood vessels, lowering your blood pressure
- Calcium channel blockers to help relax your blood vessels, lowering your blood pressure
- Beta-blockers to widen blood vessels and ease the heart’s workload
Different drugs are often used in combination to control blood pressure.
To manage treatment-resistant hypertension, individuals are strongly advised to make behavioral and dietary changes. If these treatments are ineffective, additional measures, including interventional therapies such as renal denervation, may be recommended.