High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

What is high blood pressure (hypertension)?

High blood pressure is a common condition in which the long-term force of the blood against your artery walls is high enough that it may eventually cause health problems, such as heart disease.

Blood pressure is determined both by the amount of blood your heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries. The more blood your heart pumps and the narrower your arteries, the higher your blood pressure.

What is the symptom of high blood pressure?

Most people with high blood pressure have no signs or symptoms, even if blood pressure readings reach dangerously high levels.

A few people with high blood pressure may have headaches, shortness of breath or nosebleeds, but these signs and symptoms aren't specific and usually don't occur until high blood pressure has reached a severe or life-threatening stage.

Who's at risk of high blood pressure?

Factors that can raise your risk of developing high blood pressure include:

  • Age: the risk of developing high blood pressure increases as you get older.
  • Family history of high blood pressure.
  • Being of African or Caribbean origin.
  • High amount of salt in your food.
  • Lack of exercise.
  • Overweight or obese.
  • Regularly drinking large amounts of alcohol.
  • Smoking.
  • Long-term sleep deprivation.

Making healthy lifestyle changes can help keep your blood pressure at a normal level.

What are the causes of high blood pressure?

In about 1 in 20 cases, high blood pressure occurs as the result of an underlying condition, medication or drug.

A.    Conditions that can cause high blood pressure include:

  • Kidney disease.
  • Diabetes.
  • Long-term kidney infections.
  • Obstructive sleep apnea: a condition in which the walls of the throat relax and narrow.
  • Glomerulonephritis: damage to the tiny filters inside the kidneys.
  • Narrowing of the arteries supplying the kidneys.
  • Hormone problems: such as an underactive thyroid, an overactive thyroid, Cushing's syndrome, acromegaly, increased levels of the hormone aldosterone (hyperaldosteronism) and phaeochromocytoma.
  • Lupus: a condition in which the immune system attacks parts of the body such as the skin, joints and organs.
  • Scleroderma: a condition that causes thickened skin, and sometimes problems with organs and blood vessels.

B.    Medicines and drugs that can increase your blood pressure include:

  • The combined oral contraceptive pill.
  • Steroid medication.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): such as ibuprofen and naproxen.
  • Some over the counter cough and cold remedies.
  • Some herbal remedies: particularly those containing liquorice.
  • Some recreational drugs: such as cocaine and amphetamines.
  • Some selective serotonin-noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor (SSNRI) antidepressants: such as venlafaxine.

In these cases, your blood pressure may return to normal once you stop taking the medicine or drug.

What are the complications of high blood pressure?

The excessive pressure on your artery walls caused by high blood pressure can damage your blood vessels, as well as organs in your body. The higher your blood pressure and the longer it goes uncontrolled, the greater the damage. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to:

  • Heart attack or stroke: High blood pressure can cause hardening and thickening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), which can lead to a heart attack, stroke or other complications.
  • Aneurysm: Increased blood pressure can cause your blood vessels to weaken and bulge, forming an aneurysm. If an aneurysm ruptures, it can be life-threatening.
  • Heart failure: To pump blood against the higher pressure in your vessels, your heart muscle thickens. Eventually, the thickened muscle may have a hard time pumping enough blood to meet your body's needs, which can lead to heart failure.
  • Weakened and narrowed blood vessels in your kidneys: This can prevent these organs from functioning normally.
  • Thickened, narrowed or torn blood vessels in the eyes: This can result in vision loss.
  • Metabolic syndrome: This syndrome is a cluster of disorders of your body's metabolism, including increased waist circumference; high triglycerides; low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the "good" cholesterol; high blood pressure; and high insulin levels. These conditions make you more likely to develop diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
  • Trouble with memory or understanding: Uncontrolled high blood pressure may also affect your ability to think, remember and learn. Trouble with memory or understanding concepts is more common in people with high blood pressure.

How is high blood pressure diagnosed?

To measure your blood pressure, your doctor or a specialist will usually place an inflatable arm cuff around your arm and measure your blood pressure using a pressure-measuring gauge.

A blood pressure reading, given in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg), has two numbers. The first, or upper, number measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats (systolic pressure). The second, or lower, number measures the pressure in your arteries between beats (diastolic pressure).
Blood pressure measurements fall into four general categories:

  • Normal blood pressure: Your blood pressure is normal if it's below 120/80 mm Hg.
  • Prehypertension: is a systolic pressure ranging from 120 to 139 mm Hg or a diastolic pressure ranging from 80 to 89 mm Hg. Prehypertension tends to get worse over time.
  • Stage 1 hypertension: is a systolic pressure ranging from 140 to 159 mm Hg or a diastolic pressure ranging from 90 to 99 mm Hg.
  • Stage 2 hypertension: is a systolic pressure of 160 mm Hg or higher or a diastolic pressure of 100 mm Hg or higher.

Your doctor will likely take two to three blood pressure readings each at three or more separate appointments before diagnosing you with high blood pressure. This is because blood pressure normally varies throughout the day, and sometimes specifically during visits to the doctor, a condition called white coat hypertension. Your blood pressure generally should be measured in both arms to determine if there is a difference. It's important to use an appropriate-sized arm cuff. Your doctor may ask you to record your blood pressure at home and at work to provide additional information.

What are the treatments and lifestyles for high blood pressure?

Everyone with high blood pressure is advised to make the healthy lifestyle changes outlined below. Whether medication is recommended depends on your blood pressure reading and your risk of developing problems such as heart attacks or strokes.

Your doctor will carry out some blood and urine tests, and ask questions about your health to determine your risk of other problems:

  • if your blood pressure is consistently above 140/90mmHg (or 135/85mmHg at home) but your risk of other problems is low: you'll be advised to make some changes to your lifestyle
  • if your blood pressure is consistently above 140/90mmHg (or 135/85mmHg at home) and your risk of other problems is high: you'll be offered medication to lower your blood pressure, in addition to lifestyle changes
  • if your blood pressure is consistently above 160/100mmHg: you'll be offered medication to lower your blood pressure, in addition to lifestyle changes

Lifestyle changes to treat high blood pressure

No matter what medications your doctor prescribes to treat your high blood pressure, you'll need to make lifestyle changes to lower your blood pressure.
Your doctor may recommend several lifestyle changes, including:

  • Cutting your salt intake to less than 6g (0.2oz) a day.
  • Eating a low-fat, balanced diet: including plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.
  • Exercising regularly.
  • Quitting smoking.
  • getting at least six hours of sleep a night if you can.
  • drinking less caffeine: found in coffee, tea and cola.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight or losing weight if you're overweight or obese.
  • Manage stress. Reduce stress as much as possible. Practice healthy coping techniques, such as muscle relaxation, deep breathing or meditation.

Resistant hypertension: When your blood pressure is difficult to control

If your blood pressure remains stubbornly high despite taking at least three different types of high blood pressure drugs, one of which usually should be a diuretic, you may have resistant hypertension. People who have controlled high blood pressure but are taking four different types of medications at the same time to achieve that control also are considered to have resistant hypertension. The possibility of a secondary cause of the high blood pressure generally should be reconsidered.

Does my Insurance Policy covers high blood pressure treatment?

Yes. According to CCHI unified Policy terms and conditions, health insurance policies in Saudi Arabia cover the treatment of high blood pressure.

Please Click Here to access the Unified CCHI Policy Wordings.


"Hypertension." High Blood Pressure. N.p., 15 June 2016. Web. 20 Oct. 2016.
"Hypertension." High Blood Pressure(hypertension). N.p., 9 Sept. 2016. Web. 20 Oct. 2016.
"hypertension." Rules and Regulations. N.p., n.d. Web.