Understand what blood pressure is, the health risks of having high blood pressure, the factors that put you at risk for having high blood pressure, and the importance of working with your healthcare provider to control it.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a common condition in which the pressure of your blood flow against the artery walls becomes too high. The high pressure can eventually cause heart disease.

Pulmonary hypertension is a specific type of high blood pressure, where there is increased pressure in the pulmonary arteries. Learn more about pulmonary hypertension.

The heart specialists at the University of Maryland Heart and Vascular Center provide the full spectrum of care for patients with high blood pressure.

You can receive all the care you need at our center, from screenings to diagnostic exams to treatment and follow up.

We monitor you closely to determine if your treatment is working well or if we need to adjust. Our team offers all types of treatment, from medication therapies to surgery.

High Blood Pressure Symptoms

Many times, you may not experience any symptoms of high blood pressure. You should have regular blood pressure screenings starting at age 18, so physicians can detect any problems in their early stages. The earlier we diagnose a problem, the more successful treatments can be. When high blood pressure reaches an advanced stage, you may experience:

  • Headaches
  • Dizzy spells
  • More nosebleeds than normal

There are many risk factors for high blood pressure. Some you cannot change, such as family history or age. However, some risk factors are within your control, such as diet and exercise. Talk to your doctor about taking steps to reduce your risk factors.

Risk factors include:

  • Age -the risk increases as you age
  • Race - high blood pressure is more common among African-Americans
  • Family history of high blood pressure 
  • Being overweight
  • Lack of exercise
  • Using tobacco
  • Too much salt and too little potassium and vitamin D in your diet
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • High stress levels
  • Chronic conditions, such as kidney disease and sleep apnea

Learn more about heart disease prevention.

High Blood Pressure Diagnosis

Diagnosing high pressure requires a simple, painless procedure using an arm cuff. The cuff measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats and the pressure between beats. If your blood pressure is high, we will review your medical history and conduct a physical examination. We may also recommend additional tests including:

  • Urinalysis
  • Blood tests, including a cholesterol test
  • Electrocardiogram 

Learn more about cardiac diagnosis.

High Blood Pressure Treatment

Often, lifestyle changes can dramatically improve your blood pressure. These include:

  • Eating a healthy diet with less salt
  • Exercising regularly 
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Quitting smoking

We may also recommend:

  • Medication to lower your blood pressure
  • Pulmonary thromboendarterectomy (PTE), a specialized procedure to treat pulmonary hypertension, a specific type of high blood pressure. Learn more about pulmonary thromboendarterectomy.
  • Aortic disease treatment: High blood pressure can lead to aortic complications, such as aortic aneurysm or aortic dissection. We have one of the top teams in the region with the experience and capability to treat aortic problems and hypertension together. Learn more about aortic disease, which is treated at our Center for Aortic Disease.

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