High Blood Pressure: What To Look Out For

high blood pressureThe information provided is from the American Heart Association

A common misunderstanding about high blood pressure (also known as hypertension) is that it is largely a symptomless condition. If you do not pay attention to your blood pressure, or if you’re relying on symptoms to indicate a problem, then you are taking a dangerous risk with your life. When blood pressure readings soar to dangerously high levels more obvious symptoms may occur. Blood pressure this high is known as hypertensive crises and if reached, emergency medical treatment is needed.

High blood pressure is a chronic condition, and the damage it causes to blood vessels and organs generally occurs over years. However, it is possible for blood pressure to rise quickly and severely enough to be considered a hypertensive crisis. To reduce mortality in this situation, early evaluation of organ function and blood pressure elevations at these levels is critical to determine the appropriate management. Listed below are symptoms a person in hypertensive crisis may experience:

  • Extreme readings
  • Severe headaches
  • Severe anxiety
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nosebleeds

Being aware of your readings is extremely important, especially if you have a history of high blood pressure in your family. If you get a blood pressure reading of 180 or higher on top or 110 or higher on the bottom, and are having any symptoms of possible organ damage (chest pain, shortness of breath, back pain, numbness/weakness, change in vision, difficulty speaking) do not wait to see if your pressure comes down on it’s own.

Everybody needs to know their blood pressure numbers in order to prevent high blood pressure from developing. Contact us with questions about your blood pressure or to schedule an appointment.

Sleep and Hypertension

Sleep and Hypertension - ADC Sleep Disorders Center

Several studies have shown a link between hypertension and an abnormal breathing pattern during sleep called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Hypertension (High Blood Pressure) is common in patients with OSA. There is also evidence that OSA can lead to the development of hypertension. People with OSA have repeated interruptions in breathing during sleep. This is caused by collapse of the main breathing passage in the back of the throat. Every time this passage is blocked, breathing stops and oxygen is used up. After some time (usually 10-20 seconds, although up to one minute is not unusual) the breathing difficulty causes a brief awakening. The awakenings are often so short that the person is unaware of any interruptions in sleep.

Video: Sleep Medicine (Inside Look) At ADC

The awakening relieves the blockage in the breathing passage and normal breathing resumes. Unfortunately, when the person falls back asleep, the entire process can repeat (often hundreds of times per night). The drop in oxygen level from not breathing, and the increase in heart rate and blood pressure caused by waking up, causes stress for the heart. These nightly increases in blood pressure eventually lead to permanent increases in blood pressure, even during the day.

It is important to treat hypertension. Hypertension is a known risk factor for the development of other forms of cardiovascular disease such as heart attack, heart failure and stroke. But treating hypertension may not be enough if the key reason for a person’s high blood pressure is an unrecognized sleep disorder like OSA. Hypertension medications, for instance, may not work well in a patient with untreated OSA. Many people who have difficult cases of hypertension are later found to have untreated OSA. Treatment of OSA can improve hypertension. For this reason, it is important for your healthcare professional to investigate all of the possible causes of your hypertension, including sleep disorders like OSA.

Visit us at the ADC Sleep Disorders Center