High Blood Pressure/Hypertension

What is High Blood Pressure?

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health, high blood pressure, also called hypertension, is defined as:

  • 140 mm Hg or greater systolic pressure or 90 mm Hg or greater diastolic pressure

These numbers should be used as a guide only. Please speak with your physician about your numbers. For a referral to a RWJBarnabas Health cardiologist or primary care physician, call 888-724-7123.

A single elevated blood pressure measurement is not necessarily an indication of a problem. Your doctor will want to see multiple blood pressure measurements over several days or weeks before making a diagnosis of hypertension (high blood pressure) and initiating treatment. A person who normally runs a lower-than-usual blood pressure may be considered hypertensive with lower blood pressure measurements than 140/90.

Nearly one-third of all Americans have high blood pressure, but it is particularly prevalent in:

  • People who have diabetes, gout, or kidney disease
  • African Americans (particularly those who live in the southeastern United States)
  • People with a family history of high blood pressure
  • Obese people
  • Heavy drinkers of alcohol
  • Women who are taking oral contraceptives

High Blood Pressure Treatments

Blood pressure medications may be used to help control elevated blood pressure. Your doctor will prescribe the appropriate medication(s) for your situation. There are several types of medications which act in different ways to lower blood pressure.

High blood pressure can be controlled by:

  • Taking prescribed medications exactly as ordered by your health care provider
  • Choosing foods that are low in salt (sodium), calories and fat
  • Choosing foods high in fiber
  • Maintaining a healthy weight, or losing weight if overweight
  • Limiting serving sizes
  • Increasing physical activity
  • Reducing or omitting alcoholic beverages

Weight loss, regular physical exercise, and balanced diet have shown to be effective in lowering high blood pressure. According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, strong evidence shows that 150 minutes or 2 hours and 30 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity can help lower the risk of high blood pressure.

Because high blood pressure often has no signs or symptoms, it is important to get your blood pressure checked each time you visit your physician. For a referral to a RWJBarnabas Health cardiologist or primary care physician, call 888-724-7123.