What Is The Definition Of Hypertension Stage 1?
Hypertension is the word used to denote the condition of having high blood pressure. Hyper means ‘over’, being derived from ancient Greek whereas hypo means ‘under’. Low blood pressure is therefore referred to as hypo-tension in a similar way that hypo-thermia means your body temperature is too low. Hypertension is defined as readings above the normo-tension (normal blood pressure) range. As blood pressure escalates up above the normotension range, it is allocated into various categories, each representing increasing risks to health:
- ‘Elevated’ or ‘Elevated Normal’
- ‘Prehypertension’ (no longer used in the United States ACC/AHA scale since 2017)
- ‘Hypertension Stage 1‘
- ‘Hypertension Stage 2’
- ‘Severe Hypertension’ or ‘Hypertensive Crisis’
- ‘Hypertensive Emergency’
The normal or ideal blood pressure range is represented by readings being anywhere between 90-over-60mmHg and 120-over-80mmHg. A reading of e.g. 120/80 represents the systolic pressure of 120mmHg when the heart contracts to push blood around the body, and 80mmHg represents the diastolic blood pressure when the heart has relaxed and dilates between beats. The mmHg unit stands for millimetres of mercury and you can read why that used here.
Prehypertension on international scales tends to be where the systolic pressure reads between 130mmHg to 140mmHg and/or the diastolic reading is between 85mmHg and 90mmHg. If either reading is higher than these ranges, then your overall blood pressure will fall into whatever the higher associated category for that reading might be.
A change in 2017, meant the scale often used in the United States – the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association (ACC-AHA) scale, was modified to remove the category of ‘prehypertension’. The scale now only considers systolic readings above normal (greater than 120mmHg), but below 130mmHg as being ‘elevated’, while any diastolic reading over 80mmHg but less than 90mmHg places it directly into a Hypertension Stage 1 classification.
Therefore, on most scales a blood pressure reading defined as Hypertension Stage 1 would need to be between 140mmHg to 160mmHg systolic and/or 90mmHg to 100mmHg diastolic, but on the ACC/AHA scale it would be defined as having lower readings of between 130mmHg to 140mmHg systolic and/or 80mmHg to 90mmHg diastolic. The downward revision of the Hypertension Stage 1 start boundary from ≥140/≥90 mmHg before the year 2017, to ≥130/≥80 mmHg after 2017, made a much larger proportion of the US population be categorised as suffering from hypertension than previously.
You can analyse any blood pressure readings and see them plotted on the above mentioned charts using the free tool on the homepage of xBloodPressure.com along with explanations about what those readings may mean for your health and how to set about changing them.
What are the Symptoms of Hypertension Stage 1?
It is quite unlikely that you would notice any symptoms from having a Hypertension Stage 1 blood pressure condition. Hypertension is often referred to as the silent killer for the very reason that it presents no noticeable symptoms until it is often too late. Consequences of high blood pressure, such as the increased risk of strokes occurring, often result in irreversible damage. This is why it is so important to monitor your blood pressure and take the necessary measures to bring it back a safer range if it is trending away from normal.
If you are recording readings of Hypertension Stage 1 consistently, which can be checked easily enough with a blood pressure machine designed for home use, there are some lifestyle alterations you could be making to achieve lower blood pressure. Always bear in mind that a lot of different factors affect blood pressure readings.
How Do I Lower Blood Pressure From Hypertension Stage 1?
Consult with you doctor or pharmacist before making any major changes to your lifestyle, they may see it fit to explore medicated approaches depending on your particular circumstances. However at these relatively lower high blood pressure levels of Hypertension Stage 1, lifestyle changes can still be effective at bringing it back under control. Some changes you might undertake when suffering from HS1 could include to:
Refrain from Smoking or Vaping
Smoking and more recently vaping have been shown in many studies to cause statistically significant increases in blood pressure, particularly in the short term. The longer term associations of blood pressure and smoking remain unclear but if your blood pressure is higher than normal already, increasing it further each time you smoke is not advisable as it increases your health risks associated with the higher blood pressure. There are many reasons to stop smoking and this is another one to add to the list.
Keep your weight under control
Increased weight and obesity is associated with higher blood pressures. Losing weight has been shown to have a direct correlation with reducing blood pressure. Typically a loss of 2.2 pounds or 1kg will bring down your average blood pressure by 1mmHg, this calculation when losing significant amounts of weight does not always hold true but it’s a good guidance calculation to observe and monitor. There is a strong correlation between waist size and hypertension, if you hold too much weight around the waist the risk if increasing blood pressure and associated negative affects on your health are particularly increased.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Following a diet dominated by vegetables, fruit, nuts, grains, fish and lean meats alongside low fat dairy products will lower the amount of saturated fats you intake, help to keep your weight in check and be beneficial in keeping your circulatory system in good shape. You should look to maintain the amount of salt in your diet at relatively low levels, as salt typically increases blood pressure. However, as with caffeine, which may also increase blood pressure after consumption by around 10mmHg, the sensitivity of blood pressure changes to these substances very much depends on the individual’s reaction. Because it affects some people’s blood pressure badly the general recommendation of most health authorities is for everyone to moderate their salt consumption.
Eating foods high in potassium assists with reducing the impact of sodium (salt) on blood pressure and entire diets referred to as DASH diets (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) can be embarked upon to aid you in reducing you blood pressure as part of a new health regime. Most adults should aim to limit their sodium intake to around 1.5 grams a day according to the American Heart Association and 2g per day according to the World Health Organisation (a teaspoon has about 2.5g). Pay particular attention to any processed foods you buy, as processed food in general has a very high salt content. Being vigilant with food labels will help you understand how your sodium intake is adding up.
Reduce Stress and Exercise Regularly
Consistent regular exercise for half an hour a day or longer will help to keep blood pressure down over the medium to long term, whether that’s fast walking, cycling, jogging, swimming, weight training or any active sports activity they can all be beneficial for a healthy cardiovascular system. Also look to find ways to limit the amount of stress in your life whenever possible, so perhaps try to avoid stress triggers or look to make alterations to your life to handle stressful situations in a consciously calmer manner. Meditation or hypnosis might be beneficial to ‘switching off’ and setting aside time to explore interests and hobbies or even just socialising with friends can help to reduce stress. Pets and dogs in particular have been found to lower stress and blood pressure in various studies.
Blood pressure Hypertension Stage 1 is a defined range of hypertension readings, there is slight variability on the boundary where it starts and ends depending on which blood pressure chart scale you choose to use. For example the WHO would not consider you as having Hypertension Stage 1 as early on as the ACC/AHA American scale would. Either way it is a warning sign to the individual that something in their lifestyle is not as ideal for their health as it could be, but fortunately at this stage there are still lifestyle modifications that can be used to lower blood pressure and not necessarily have to rely on prescription medicines for reducing blood pressure.
Check out your own readings with the blood pressure tool offered for free on the Homepage of xBloodPressure.com
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