High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

This information is useful for children and adults
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Why Yale Medicine?
  • Our doctors develop individualized treatment plans for each patient.
  • Our doctors are involved in cutting-edge research, which gives patients access to medications before they’re available to the wider public.
  • Our approach to managing high blood pressure emphasizes lifestyle changes.

Our hearts pump five to seven liters of blood per minute. When we’re healthy, that blood flows freely through our veins and arteries to the rest of the body, but sometimes, for a variety of reasons, blood flow gets restricted. That’s what it means to have high blood pressure (also called hypertension). Like when too much air is pumped into a tire, this condition causes pressure to build up against blood vessel walls. Over time, high blood pressure damages arterial walls and increases the risk of serious health problems such as heart attack, stroke and peripheral artery disease.

At Yale Medicine, “we are very individualized in our approach,” says Arthur Seltzer, MD, cardiologist. “Some people are amenable to taking medication for their condition. Others would rather have lifestyle changes. As long as the patient understands the goal, they are more likely to follow the program.”

Hypertension is often known as the “silent killer” because there are few or no symptoms. You should ask your doctor for a blood pressure reading at least every two years. If you’re 40 years old or older, or you’re considered at high risk for high blood pressure, you should ask your doctor for a blood pressure reading every year. You can also take your blood pressure yourself at grocery stores or with home blood pressure reading kits. However, these options are often less accurate.

According to guidelines from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), a reading below 120/80 is classified as normal blood pressure. Those with a blood pressure reading anywhere from 120/80 up to 139/89 are classified within a category called "prehypertension."

Important: If you are monitoring your own blood pressure and you get a reading above 180 several times in a row, go see a doctor immediately.

Clinical Trials

New treatments for many conditions are tested in clinical trials, which ultimately bring lifesaving new drugs and devices to the patients who need them most. By participating in a clinical trial, you may get access to the most advanced treatments for your condition, and help determine their benefits for future patients.