What Do You Know About High Blood Pressure?

Updated on October 05, 2011
R.D. asks from Richmond, VA
25 answers

I've always had high blood pressure... well, above 'normal' (which is 120/80)... The past few time's I've been to the doctor for various reasons, I've received letters: 'This is letting you know that you should schedule a follow up visit for your last BP reading'... I've always let it go, because usually, I'm stressed to the max when I go to the doc, so I've passed it off as that.

Well when I went Monday, my BP was 150/100. SOOOO not good. I'm not obese, take relatively good care of myself, trying to quit smoking, eat pretty healthy, moderately exercise (by that I mean I clean and chase kids all day)... I called my mom, she said the women on both sides of my family have a history of high BP, and all are medicated for it.

Great. I HATE taking medicine.

The nurse from the doctor I saw Monday just called and said I HAVE to do this, she was really concerned.

So, after the holidays (sorry, can't afford to do it before then), I'm going to see a doctor about this. What do YOU know about high blood pressure, the causes, and what helps it (other than medication)?? Do you have high blood pressure? How does it effect you?

Just want some real life perspective on it, not just the text book stuff ;)

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So What Happened?

I'm only 27!! AND, I do have a BP cuff... I can take my BP all day and log it, but that really doesn't help. Kind of like trying to lose weight and stepping on the scale every 30 minutes ;)

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answers from Detroit on

Try to get a stress test ASAP!

I've NEVER had High BP. However, my stepdad [quadruple bipass @ 55], my grandmother [was on several meds & died of a heart attack just after a heart cath @ 77], my ex [his was diet and lack of exercise], my ex mother in law [hereditary-on meds], and my step-grandmother [was on meds & had a pacemaker - didn't die until age 83 when her pacemaker failed in the middle of the night] all do/did. My ex sister in law performs stress tests [cardiology assistant - going for full cardiology RN]. I can tell you that there are plenty of young people that have high BP. Most often from genetics.

As far as quitting smoking [yes, I'm a smoker], the best attempt I did... I used Nicorette. It kept my stress levels down [from physical and psychological withdraw]. My husband and I quit for nearly 6mos... And started back up together. ≈ (

Medication may be the only option here.

Good luck! Keep us posted!

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Left untreated, high blood pressure will damage your circulatory system over time.
It's kind of a "pay me know or pay me later" type of disease.
I'd take the medication if I couldn't make a lasting, significant change in your blood pressure with diet, exercise, etc.

ADDED: It's not called the "silent killer" for nothing!

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answers from Dallas on

My husband has High Blood Pressure. It spikes when he eats pork, or salt. His dr has asked him not to drink alcohol and to get more aerobic excercise, more cardio. When he takes his medicine, doesn't drink, doesn't eat pork, excercises, and avoids stress, he manages it pretty well. It has gotten high enough to be hospitalized when he wasn't activeley trying to manage it. They call it the silent killer. It's nothing to play around with.

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answers from La Crosse on

buy a blood pressure machine, they aren't very much and you can get them at most drug stores. Keep a log of it at home

High blood pressure runs on my mom's side of the family. They all take garlic pills, fish oil and folic acid ( i know another pill.. but its cheaper than the prescribed meds) to help keep it lower.

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answers from Champaign on

I know that I could do a better job of watching what I eat, exercising, etc. But I also know that it really is sometimes hereditary. One thing you could do is check your BP yourself at the drug store whenever you're there. The readings could be better at those times when you're less stressed (because some people really do have higher readings in the doctor's office.)Keep a log of your readings. Show the readings to your doctor. He/she can help you determine how serious this is for you.

I am on a low dose prescription. I don't love the fact that I have to take it, but it beats the alternative. I did try to control it without meds and had some success. Personally I think my problems has more to do with the fact that I don't deal with stress as well as I could ... ok, and diet and exercise.

Remember, meds now don't necessarily mean meds forever. Tell your doctor you don't want to do this forever, and he/she should try to work with you.

Good luck!

Also, look into the DASH Diet. My doctor talked to me about this. Many doctors really encourage it.

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answers from Kansas City on

I was diagnosed at 22 with high blood pressure. I was fit, active, 135 lbs, full of life. My mom, grandmother, aunts all have it too at young ages. It does not discriminate!

I take 40MG of Linsinopril every morning. I hate taking meds too...but I can sure tell when I don't. I am tired, grumpy, and just don't feel good at all. I I don't take the meds I get migraines, tired and just plain old bitchy!

I am now over weight and not active other than my kids, cleaning and an occasional work out. Please R., go get this checked out, the longer you wait the worse it will get.

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answers from Iowa City on

I had pregnancy induced hypertension. It took it some time to lower post pregnancy. My doctor told me that it isn't such a big deal in the beginning but if you go 5-10 years with extensively high blood pressure (such as your 150/100; not 130/85) your heart starts to become damaged and you are at risk of strokes. You can cut down on your sodium intake and exercise 30 minutes 4 or 5 days a week (walking, jogging, biking, etc. nothing too strenuous). And quit smoking. If those things do not work then you probably need to take the medication. If your BP has been elevated three times in a clinical setting you can probably ask your doctor to start you on medication prior to the holidays. A lot of pharmacies have BP meds on their discounted prescription list ($4 or $10 a month). You can take the pills while implementing a healthier lifestyle and maybe by the time you can see a doctor you will be able to wean off of them. Good luck.

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answers from Houston on

If it's in your family, and you're really doing everything your post says (healthy eating, moderate exercise, sleep, etc.), then medication is probably the only way to handle it.

Your doctors aren't giving you lifestyle changes as options at this point - they understand that they probably wouldn't make that much of a difference. If it's hereditary, it's going to be nearly impossible to control without medication.

However - the "trying to quit smoking" - unfortunately, the "trying" part doesn't matter. Either you smoke or you don't. Smoking has a HUGE HUGE HUGE impact on blood pressure. Quit. Today. Consider taking the medication that helps you quit short-term to avoid a life-long high blood pressure drug.

You could also try to fit in more exercise.

I realize that additional exercise and quitting smoking aren't as easy to do as they are to suggest to someone, but those two factors might put off medication for a few years (but at some point, you'll probably need to be on some).

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answers from Dallas on

I have had high blood pressure for the last 12 - 13 years. The doctor that diagnosed it (an internist that I highly respect) said if you have 1 parent that has it you have a 50% chance of having it. If you have 2 parents with it you have 100% chance. Just depends on when you will get it. Alot of it is hereditary and the rest is your personal health. I am overweight and don't eat as well as I should. Mine doesn't effect me at all unless I run out of my prescription. Then after a couple of days I get a major major headache and I feel like my nose is bleeding. I also tend to get really really crabby and quick to anger. When I am taking my medicine - all's good. No problems, doesn't make me feel bad or anything else. I do know with me - my meds tend to have to be changed every couple of years. They just stop working (I guess my body gets used to them.) Your bp was really high. And this isn't something you cannot do. I understand about waiting until after the holidays. But then please see the doctor. Until then, try to stay away from salty foods, high sodium stuff (check your marinades & seasonings - alot are very high in sodium), and watch your stress level. All those will make it go up. Hope this helps some !

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answers from Roanoke on

Since my pregnancy earlier this year, I've been in and out of doctor's offices. I never seem to get good news when I go in, so each time I DO go, my blood pressure is higher than it should be (never used to be that way, I've gotten low, normal, and high readings in the past). High BP does run in my family, but I also know that for me, it depends on lots of factors..when I last ate, what I ate, stress level, when I exercised, and if I had coffee that morning. I can seem to change it at will. Let me tell you a story...

Three weeks ago I had to go get stuck for an hcg test. I had eaten an hour earlier (not the healthiest of lunches, but not too bad), drank a soda with it, had coffee earlier that morning, and I HATE going to my OB's office right now because there are too many beautiful pregnant women there and I get anxious and teary because I'm not one of them. SO, my BP was 154/118--WAY HIGH. Long story short, they called an ambulance, shoved a baby asprin down my throat, and sent me straight to the ER. All the way to the hospital, my BP was going down. Once I got to the ER and they hooked me up to all the machines, EKG, etc, my BP hit 122/83. All the hubub of whisking me off to the ER seemed unnecessary, because I'm only 26. Nonetheless, I got a clean bill of health and was sent home.

Anyway, my doc eventually told me to just keep an eye on it once in a while. I don't need any medication to control it, but I was told that diet and exercise, and less stress should be fine. I've never seen my BP get as high as it did, but it's really the lower number you need to worry about. (I think) you and I are about the same age, so if I were you, just buy a home BP monitor and check it at home. If you notice it being consistently high, go back and get meds. If there are certain triggers (caffeine, smoking, stress), try to cut them out as best you can. Hope I didn't ramble too much. :) Good luck!

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answers from Redding on

WEll, my husband has it. Salt is the biggest culprit and alcohol the next. If you watch Dr Oz fairly regularly he has all sorts of ways to battle high bp other than meds. If your willing to REALLY eat to live you can probably do without the meds..... because once youre on em it's dangerous to go off of them... and you cant eat grapefruit or drink anything with grapefruit in it... so no "salty dogs" if you are familiar with them :)
I'd google some heart smart diets and see if it's something you can do. If not you better take the meds. High bp is the leading cause of strokes. Did they check your cholesterol level, usually high cholesterol goes hand in hand with high bp? And since its a genetic disorder you might be able to prevent it in your children by adopting a new way of eating for the entire family. Goodbye quarter pounder with cheese.

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answers from Boston on

I feel for you! I have struggled with this as well, and I had hypertension when I was pregnant both times and took medication for it (it worked great, no bed rest, full-term). There is high BP on my father's side of the family. He takes medication for it now, but managed to avoid it until a few years ago when he hit 60 with just diet and exercise. He and I both have "white coat hypertension" for sure! Even if I am just getting a flu shot, my BP goes up the second I enter the exam room, hell, the office itself. Right now, I don't take any meds and no one has told me I need to look into that, but I try to take my BP at home or at the grocery store so when the nurse gives me that look I can say I am making sure it's not high all the time, and it's true. I exercise at least 6 times a week and I eat a healthy diet, don't smoke, barely drink, so I think all that can only help. However, I am a pretty stressed out person these days for personal and work-related reasons, and I fear that may not be helping the cause. So this is something I have on my radar...

What I do know is that the meds, while it sucks to take something, do work, and it's a good circular pattern. What I mean is, when you take the medication, you worry less because you are doing what you can to help yourself. When you are less stressed, your BP goes down immediately, and the good cycle continues. A lot of this, in my opinion, is psychological. I am a huge believer in natural treatments; food, lifestyle, acupuncture, therapy, whatever you choose, BUT, I am a realist, and I honestly feel that if you have the propensity for it, you have it, and that's that. I struggled with that when I was pregnant (but I'm healthy, I'm not overweight, I eat well!!!) but finally I let it go when my doctor said, there is really not much you can do to fight genetics, and how great we have modern medicine to help you! Even though you are not pregnant, think of it that way.

Hope this helps!

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answers from Los Angeles on

My sister has it. Like you the bottom # is the scariest for my sister b/c that one measures your 'resting' heart rate...basically hers and your heart don't really rest...which is scary! Heart attack, stroke..these are the scary words that go along with it. My sister is terrible about taking her medicine but I wish she would be more vigilant!

Now go take a couple of those vicodin they gave you and try to relax and melt into your coach...that should bring it down a little :)

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answers from Chicago on


Listen, there is so much more that you are not saying here. Do you exerise, smoke, drink caffine etc.... You do have a family history so you may be stuck taking meds. Some family are prone to it and that is just the way it is. There is a great article on the Mayo Clinic web-site you should look over.

10 ways to control high blood pressure without medication.
Look it up on the Mayo Clinic web site and see if there are steps you could be taking to improve your health!

I wish you the best!!

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answers from Chicago on

Unfortunately genetics plays a huge part in High BP, even if you exercise a little and watch what you eat. My mothers family all have High BP, and I have even lost cousins at a young age because of it. It seems the girls in my family have inherited high BP, except one, who for some reason has low BP, but bad cholesterol!
I get you, about going to the Doctors stressed, after running around organizing so that you can make the appointment.
I know it is a pain, and I too hate taking meds daily too, but if you are a parent, please think of your children and for that matter the rest of your family! You don't want them to be without you, and I'm sure you don't want to miss any of their childhood either.
The worst thing would be for you to have a stroke which debilitates you to a degree, which you may not recover from. You also don't want something to happen to you when your kids are alone with you, and put them through that type of anxiety and scare them.
I just had an EKG and heart echo as I am pregnant with our 3rd baby at 43. The cardiologist said to me NO SALT! I thought "I don't add that much salt to cooking or food", but when I look on the food packaging at sodium amounts it is mind boggling.
Please go to the Doctor and take care of yourself! It is not a failure to have to take medication for High BP, just a part of life. If you continue exercising a bit more than you are doing - like me, most of my exercise comes from chasing the kids around, and don't eat that last chip or popcorn the kids leave from there snacks it will help.
Good luck!

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answers from Houston on

Your blood pressure might just run high. You'll have to do extra work to stay on top of it because it won't be as easy to detect elevation, but if you keep with a healthy lifestyle (QUIT smoking!!), then you could be okay. Check it regularly for change. Unless there's something else going on, I would not take any medicine to control it. There's nothing WRONG with it. If your body is okay functioning with it as is--no other health problems as a result, or BP is not a result of other health problems--then you run the risk of throwing other things off when you change it.

The women in my family have low blood pressure. My normal is about 106/60, and it is RARELY higher than that. When I'm really cold, it's barely detectable. (I joke and say that I am hibernating.) It's always been this way. I have to demand that caregivers pay attention to it when it's elevated because they always want to brush me off with "Oh, that's normal," or "That's, actually, very good." I have to stop them in their tracks and say, "Normal for others. For ME, it's elevated, so please make a mental note and don't lump me in a group that will cause me to die because you were waiting for it to get higher." Before anesthesia, I always tell them, "This is what my NORMAL BP is, so if it goes higher, please know that that's elevated. By that same token, please know that if it's right here, this is the same as when I am awake and moving around."

I have known of cases where people took Valerian and noticed a favorable change in BP. Maybe that would be a good route for you...once a day or every other day. You know your body better than any doctor can.

I think that doctors are uncomfortable treating something that is out of their norm, so they want to shove you into your appropriate box so they can give you cookie-cutter prescriptions and diagnoses. When I was pregnant, my doctor--whom I loooove--was really bothered by the fact that I was not gaining much weight. He was afraid that I was actually trying to lose weight, because I had told him early on that I did not plan to gain 30 pounds just because that's what the books say. When he tried to make a big deal about the baby not gaining, I told him that we had just done an ultrasound, and the baby was growing fine. When I was heading out for maternity leave, some people were just realizing that I was pregnant. That was not by design, because I was eating literally all day every day. I was just eating good stuff, and I experienced some hormonal changes that I actually anticipated.

Anyway, I say all this to say that not falling into the "normal" categories does not mean that you are a health risk. Sometimes the only risk to your health is that you don't have the same baseline as most of what they've seen, so they've got to put in a little more work to keep up with YOUR particulars. This is why having a baseline is so important, to give them something to go by for YOU. "Normal" means "compared to the general population", and sometimes you're just gonna be different.

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answers from Grand Rapids on

It is important to stay on top of your blood pressure! If it is uncontrolled and remains too high, it has the potential to be fatal! If you aren't over weight and you don't have a family history of high bp, then you need to try to ascertain why it is high. I have had high bp since my early twenties and it is due to chronic kidney disease that caused damage to my kidneys as a child. Another friend of mine has blood pressure that suddenly became high and it was due to kidney disease as well. I have had to be medicated for it since I was young and often I tried to just stop taking the meds and always, after a period of time, it gradually escalated to dangerous levels. They are little pills and if they keep you from dying, then I guess its worth the little inconvenience of taking them once a day! Stop being a baby about it! (Sorry to be so harsh, but it is pretty silly really to neglect a serious health issue because you don't like taking meds!)They call high blood pressure the silent killer for a good reason. It is easy to dismiss because often you don't feel the symptoms until it is too late. You could end up having a stroke, heart attack or any number of sudden onset life threatening issues if you don't take this seriously. When my bp is high, I often get head aches and blurred, spotty or "crackly" vision. If you are feeling these symptoms you need to get it checked immediately! Please don't take this lightly. It is nothing to mess around with. If you care about yourself, your children, and want to be around to watch them grow, get thee to the doctor and get this under control!!

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answers from Orlando on

I have it too, Dr. tells me to get more exercise. My resting pulse is always above 90 and that concerns my Dr. more than the bp. I also take my bp from home at different times of day and keep a log. It seems to be normal at home, higher at the doctors office and I just read an article that that can be common. I go to my doc every three months for her to monitor it. I have taken meds before, but am off them for now as I am managing it with diet/exercise. Good Luck and take care of yourself! Heart disease is the #1 killer of women!

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answers from Raleigh on

Wow. Can't believe you're going to wait until after the holidays to take care of your health!! If you have high blood pressure you NEED to do 2 things...right away. Quit smoking and gets on meds. It doesn't matter what you want, it's what your body needs. You could be damaging your kidneys right now. Why would you chance that?! Just step up to the plate and get the job(s) done.

Sorry, I've never written a harsh comment before. I've had high blood pressure since I turned 19. Mine is due to only having one kidney because I had cancer when I was young and had to have a kidney removed. I've popped a pill a day for almost 20yrs...there's really nothing to it. You currently have 2 healthy kidneys....take care of them! I wish I had two....and smoking is just wreaking havoc on your arteries. Just do what the Dr says, that's what he's there for.



answers from Chicago on

My husband is 40 and had to start taking blood pressure medicine this year. he wasn't happy either. It is genetic for him. Once he started the meds he feels so much better. Just take the medicine . It can prevent a stroke. Good luck :)


answers from Seattle on

This is just a side note:
My midwifes caught this for me. When I get my blood pressure taken in an office it shoots up because I'm generally nervous and uncomfortable. My midwives realized this (Whoa, Ephie, why is your blood pressure so high - we know you have too-LOW blood pressure) so they would take it THREE times. By the third time I'd have calmed down to where they could get an accurate read.

I have low blood pressure, to the point where I have to up my sodium intake to stay balanced. At the end of my pregnancy I finally hit an average pressure, which was HIGH for me.

My dad has hypertension so he REALLY watches his sodium and makes sure that every calorie he eats is nutrient rich. He's on a mostly raw foods diet. No coffee. No cigarettes. No alcohol (in theory, but he still drinks which reeks havoc on his system 'cause he drinks heavy).

I know that a person can be underweight and have high blood pressure. In fact, a person could have an eating disorder cause high blood pressure / hypertension.

I know stress is a HUGE factor, and I mean stress in a general way. Famine is a physical stress same as emotional turbulence is physical stress. Our personal life methods can cause or reduce stress. Heck, lot's of things are stressful and our body processes stress differently than our mind. We can be in a traffic jam and our body thinks/processes it like we are about to get eaten by a lion - while our conscious mind knows. Similar to dieting...we can be trying to loose weight and our body can think we are starving...because we might actually be (even if not intentional). It's just a similar/same physical reaction to a different external situation.

I think reducing blood pressure is a pretty personal process. I might have blood pressure because my diet consists of fast food. "You" might have high blood pressure because you work in the E.R. and live on caffeine and msg sandwiches. Sally might have High BP because she doesn't get enough nutritious calories and is living in an urban war zone.

So addressing it, we have to come up with a plan that effects the root cause/s.

Good luck...this in and of itself is stressful!



answers from Boston on

If you can't afford meds until after the holidays you should do everything in your power to quit smoking...NOW. Not because it will save you some money, but because it will likely have a positive effect on your high blood pressure!



answers from Milwaukee on

You need to treat high blood pressure NOW to prevent heart attack and stroke. If you don't want to go to the doctor or take medications, then what you can do RIGHT NOW is start exercising 30 minutes-an hour EVERY SINGLE DAY. Walk, jog, or use the elliptical...sit-ups, push-ups...get the blood flowing. This WILL help. Also, as others have mentioned, cut down on salt-intake. good luck to you! <3


answers from Orlando on

Sorry R., I don't have time to read the other responses so I apologize in advance if I repeat anything. My only experience with high blood pressure is with my son, Bryce. Three years ago, he nearly lost his life due to a horrible and devastating case of MRSA sepsis, he had just turned three. He spent the first 38 days of a 99 day hospital stay on life support. He was in total organ failure, including kidney failure for a month. He had what is called CVVH which is basically 24 hour dialysis for 21 days and then several treatments of hemodialyis until his kidneys started to slowly work again. Because of his kidney failure and susequent weakness, he had high blood pressure that had to be treated with Lisenopryl (probably spelled wrong) until October 2010....a full 2 years after the initial sickness. It's obviously not fun to be on meds for any length of time, maybe even life, but one small pill a day is nothing when you count the blessings of many years of life to enjoy watching your children grow up as well as growing old with your husband. Really, you need to have this looked at pretty quickly. After the holidays is 2-3 months from now, not worth risking your life. You must must must find a way to get to the doctor. They may do to you like my son had done and send you home with a 24 hour bp monitor that will check your stats every 15 minutes around the clock to get your daily averages and see when you could be spiking, etc. My son has had to do this three times and thank goodness he finally came back with normal results to where they (the nephrologist) felt like he was probably fully recovered renally. Take care of yourself, don't discount a professional's advice. The nurse has probably seen what happends to someone with untreated high BP and she's telling you that you must take care of it NOW, not in three months. GET TO THE DOCTOR!!!


answers from Washington DC on


High Blood Pressure IS NOTHING to mess with. If I need to come down there and whoop your hiney I will!!

My BP was 200/150 in April - I was feeling REALLY bad - vomiting, head ache, etc. went to the Urgent Care because Bob was worried - they took my BP and went into CRISIS mode.

My BP before babies was 118/58 to 120/60...not much of a difference
...after babies it was 150/90...not good.

right now my BP is 130/70 - I need to lose weight but my LDL and HDL are perfect - funny, huh?! I have to take Enapril daily. the dosage is getting lower as I exercise more and lose more weight so eventually it seems like I would be able get off of it completely.

SO PLEASE!!! PLEASE!! PLEASE!! do what the doctor says!!

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