Anyone with hypertension (commonly called high blood pressure) asks themselves a series of questions. Some are about the condition, some are about what the numbers mean, some are about how to improve. Here are the 7 most common questions (with answers) that everyone asks.
1: Which blood pressure categories are considered dangerous?
Normal - Congrats, you're as healthy as a horse, keep doing what you're doing!Prehypertension and Hypertension stage 1 - These stages are a warning sign. It means your BP is not that good and may increase to a dangerous level.Hypertension stage 2 - You're already in a major risk group, unfortunately. Your BP is not in good shape and you can easily get dragged into a hypertensive crisis. The good news are, you can start taking drugs and do tiny changes to get out of this stage. Keep reading! :-)Hypertensive crisis - It means your BP is really high. If this is your regular average BP and your doctor knows about it, find out what you can do to lower it! If you just took a reading and it's much higher than usual, reach out to medical assistance now.
2: I had one really high reading but the rest were good. Which category does it place me in?
One high reading means nothing. The Hypertension scale takes your average BP into account, not a one time "out of range" reading. If it's higher than expected, wait 10 minutes, try to relax and check it again.
3: Can blood pressure change between different body positions? Am I doing it right?
Yes, it can change dramatically in body positions. The "right" way to check your BP is sitting down comfortably, checking it in your left hand, while fisting your hand next to your chest.
4: My Systolic is in one category and the Diastolic in another. What counts, Systolic or Diastolic?
If that's the case, most medical approaches say you need to take just the systolic reading into account
5: Is it my fault that I have high blood pressure?
30% of Americans have high blood pressure. 20% of young adults even have it! It's not your fault and you are not alone. We live in a world that forces most of us to sit most of the day and we are surrounded by endless tasty temptations that are not really good for us. It's actually not that simple to stay healthy. You can live a healthy happy life with high BP. You just have to make sure it's under control. That is your responsibility.
6: I understand that my BP is pretty high. Is it really dangerous?
Well… actually yes. As high blood pressure induces few symptoms, most people don't know they've reached a Hypertensive crisis. High blood pressure is the main or secondary cause of 75% of all strokes and heart attacks. Self-tracking your BP (iOS, Android) will help make an early diagnosis.
7: OK, got it. I need to do something about my BP. But... let's be real, I'm not gonna start running 5 miles a day. What else can I do about it?
Start with simple things.Choose better food - Try to reduce Alcohol (progressively); Switch from coffee to herbal tea; Choose low-fat meat and chicken for lunch. These will already make a huge change! If you wanna go all the way through, put yourself on the DASH diet.
Exercise - that's a hard one, so start small. Try to walk 20 minutes a day. How? Park a little farther from work. Go out on a walk to make your phone calls. Stand up during TV commercials!
Track it baby! - That is actually the most important thing. Most people that end up in the hospital due to high BP got there because they had no idea their BP was sky rocketing. Tracking is also the easiest thing you can start with, so get a basic arm BP cuff on Amazon. Download a free tracking app like Hello Heart (iOS, Android). Now start tracking daily. It is a small and easy habit that takes no more than a minute. We've designed Hello Heart (iOS, Android) to be super easy and even fun!
In upcoming posts will try to answer other common questions such as BP medication side effects, non-pharmaceutical methods to control high BP, and what other factors contribute to risk from hypertension. If you have any specific questions or topics, drop us a line in the comments.
Hello Heart does not provide medical advice. You should always consult with your doctor about your individual care.
1. Gazit T, Gutman M, Beatty AL. Assessment of Hypertension Control Among Adults Participating in a Mobile Technology Blood Pressure Self-management Program. JAMA Netw Open. 2021;4(10):e2127008, https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.27008. Accessed October 19, 2022. (Some study authors are employed by Hello Heart. Because of the observational nature of the study, causal conclusions cannot be made. See additional important study limitations in the publication. This study showed that 108 participants with baseline blood pressure over 140/90 who had been enrolled in the program for 3 years and had application activity during weeks 148-163 were able to reduce their blood pressure by 21 mmHg using the Hello Heart program.) (2) Livongo Health, Inc. Form S-1 Registration Statement. https:/www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1639225/000119312519185159/d731249ds1.htm. Published June 28, 2019. Accessed October 19, 2022. (In a pilot study that lasted six weeks, individuals starting with a blood pressure of greater than 140/90 mmHg, on average, had a 10 mmHG reduction.) NOTE: This comparison is not based on a head-to-head study, and the difference in results may be due in part to different study protocols.
2. Validation Institute. 2021 Validation Report (Valid Through October 2022). https://validationinstitute.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Hello_Heart-Savings-2021- Final.pdf. Published October 2021. Accessed October 19, 2022. (This analysis was commissioned by Hello Heart, which provided a summary report of self-fundedemployer client medical claims data for 203 Hello Heart users and 200 non-users from 2017-2020. Findings have not been subjected to peer review.)