High Blood Pressure

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a serious illness that affects millions of people. It's measured with two numbers:

  • The first number is the systolic pressure, and it measures your pressure when your heart beats.
  • The second is your diastolic pressure, which measures your pressure between beats when your heart relaxes.

According to guidelines from the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology, hypertension is defined as blood pressure at or above 130/80. Stage 2 hypertension is defined as blood pressure at or above 140/90.

There are several types of high blood pressure, including:

  • Primary or essential hypertension: occurs over time with no identifiable cause. Genetics; physical changes, like aging or weight gain; and environment may all play a role in its development.
  • Secondary hypertension: occurs quickly and results from another condition, such as thyroid problems, sleep apnea or kidney disease.
  • Resistant hypertension: elevated blood pressure that does not respond to three or more medications.

Symptoms, Diagnosis and Outlook

Hypertension does not usually have noticeable symptoms. The only way to determine if you have high blood pressure is regular monitoring by a health care professional.

Your doctor can diagnose hypertension with a blood pressure reading, often at a routine annual visit or sick visit. If you have a high reading, your doctor will typically monitor your blood pressure to confirm if treatment is needed.

Medication and lifestyle changes can usually manage high blood pressure. If left untreated, hypertension can lead to serious health problems, such as kidney failure, heart failure, heart attack or stroke.

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Why Choose Penn State Health for Care

Advanced Expertise, Expert Care

The team of hypertension experts at Penn State Health provides the most advanced care available in the region. We provide guideline-directed medical therapies and advanced diagnostic and therapeutic care.

Our medical team is consistently recognized nationally through Best Doctors in America [Link] and America’s Top Doctors awards [Link]. Our specialists also participate in worldwide conferences and speaking engagements.

Innovation Through Research

Penn State Health includes the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, the only academic medical center in central Pennsylvania. Hershey Medical Center is a national leader in research and on the leading edge of new treatment options, including clinical trials, in partnership with Penn State College of Medicine.

To view all clinical trials and learn how to participate, visit Studyfinder.

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