High blood pressure consequences for your heart

Baptist Health Lexington. March 30, 2023

Keeping your blood pressure with a certain range for your age and gender is important.

LEXINGTON, KY. (March 22, 2023) — High blood pressure is often associated with stroke risk, but it also has consequences for your heart health.

High blood pressure – also known as hypertension – is linked to heart attack, heart failure and chest pain (angina) if unchecked or undetected.

“Keeping your blood pressure with a certain range for your age and gender is important,” said John Leigh, MD, a cardiologist affiliated with Baptist Health Lexington. “If your blood pressure is too high, your blood vessels, heart, brain, and other organs may be damaged. If it’s too low, critical organs such as your brain may not be getting sufficient blood flow.”

Historically, a reading of 120/80 has been considered “normal.” More recent advice calls for slightly lower readings. “The blood pressure that’s right for you is based upon many factors. And, conditions such as cold weather can temporarily affect your blood pressure,” Dr. Leigh added.

The best prevention for high blood pressure is knowing your numbers and making lifestyle changes that matter, such as eating a well-balanced diet low in sale, limiting alcohol, regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, quit smoking, taking your medications as prescribed and working with your healthcare provider.

Medications can also help keep your blood pressure in check.

Taking your blood pressure

You can take your blood pressure regularly at home, using an automatic blood pressure cuff, easily purchased from online retailers or many big box stores. To obtain the most accurate readings, be sure to buy a cuff that goes around your upper arm.

In advance of taking the reading, avoid caffeine and alcohol for at least a half hour, and sit calmly for five minutes.

Seat yourself comfortably in a chair, with your back supported, feet on the floor and legs uncrossed. Your arm should be supported at about the level of your heart.

Taking a pair of blood pressure readings a few minutes apart and averaging them is recommended. If the two readings are significantly different, try a third reading and average the three.

A reading of over 130/80 or higher means you are more likely to have a heart attack or stroke.

Numbers: good or bad?

“You don't always notice signs of high blood pressure and it can quietly cause damage before symptoms appear, so it's important to have regular blood pressure checks to make sure yours is normal,” Leigh said.

The American Heart Association has a handy chart to help you know how high is too high when it comes to your blood pressure.

Doctors and staff members at Baptist Health Lexington help our heart patients in and around Kentucky live better, healthier lives with the best possible outcomes. More information about our award-winning heart care team is available at Baptisthealth.com or 1.855.578.3041.