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An estimated 73 million Americans - approximately one in every three adults - suffer from hypertension. In addition, high blood pressure is believed to affect about two million American teenagers and children.
*Source: American Heart Association

Hypertension Overview

Hypertension or high blood pressure describes a condition where the force against the walls of your arteries as the heart pumps blood through the body exceeds normal levels. Normal blood pressure is below 120/80 (read “120 over 80”); blood pressure between 120/80 and 139/89 is called “pre-hypertension”; and blood pressure 140/90 or greater is considered high.

The top number, the systolic blood pressure, corresponds to the pressure in the arteries as the heart contracts and pumps blood forward in the arteries. The bottom number, the diastolic pressure, represents the pressure in the arteries as the heart relaxes after a contraction.

Pressure that exceeds the normal rate places people at risk of heart disease, aneurysms, stroke and kidney damage.

The American Heart Association and other groups have labeled hypertension as a “silent killer” because it often has no symptoms in the earlier stages, yet chronic high blood pressure can lead to coronary heart disease and kidney failure.

Physicians recognize two types of hypertension. Primary or essential hypertension describes high blood pressure with no identifiable cause. This often develops gradually over many years. Secondary hypertension describes high blood pressure issues caused by an underlying condition. These tend to appear suddenly with a root cause such as kidney problems; adrenal gland tumors; congenital defects in blood vessels; medications such as birth control pills, cold remedies, decongestants, pain relievers and some prescription drugs; and illegal drugs such as cocaine and amphetamines.

Regardless of your condition, your WellStar physician can detect hypertension easily and provide essential treatment, if necessary.


Most people with hypertension display no signs or symptoms, even when their blood pressure is dangerously high. Some symptoms that could occur include:

  • Confusion
  • Buzzing in the ear
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Heavy perspiration
  • Nosebleeds