Blood Pressure Home > What Is High Blood Pressure?
Many people wonder, "What is high blood pressure?" Also known as hypertension, increased blood pressure occurs when the pressure in the blood vessels is too high. An average blood pressure reading of more than 140/90 is considered to be high. Over time, increased blood pressure can lead to health problems, such as congestive heart failure, vision problems, and kidney failure.
Blood pressure is the amount of force (pressure) that blood exerts on the walls of the blood vessels as it passes through them. As blood is pumped from your heart into your blood vessels, enough pressure is created to send it to all other parts of your body. As blood vessels travel away from the heart, they branch off and gradually get smaller, just like the branches of a tree. One branch may go to the brain while another may go to your kidneys. Blood pressure keeps the blood flowing through all these branches so that your body's cells get the oxygen and nutrients they need and waste matter can be removed.
As you might have guessed, high blood pressure (also known as hypertension) develops when the pressure within your blood vessels is too high. About 1 out of every 3 American adults -- nearly 65 million people -- has high blood pressure.
If a person is diagnosed with high blood pressure, it doesn't mean that he or she is "too nervous," overanxious, or obsessive. This is a popular myth. High blood pressure is not nervous tension. In fact, many people who are perfectly calm have high blood pressure.
There are a number of different categories of high blood pressure. Most people have what is known as essential hypertension or primary hypertension. This is high blood pressure where the cause is not known. Other types of high blood pressure include:
- Isolated systolic hypertension
- Malignant hypertension
- Portal hypertension
- Pulmonary hypertension
- Secondary hypertension
- Intracranial hypertension
- "White-coat hypertension"
There are several types of high blood pressure in pregnancy. These types include:
- Preeclampsia (also known as pregnancy-induced hypertension, toxemia of pregnancy, or acute hypertensive disease of pregnancy)
- Chronic hypertension
- Chronic hypertension with preeclampsia
- Late hypertension (also called gestational hypertension).