Blood Pressure Screening

What Is Blood Pressure Screening?

A blood pressure test measures the pressure in your arteries as your heart pumps. You might have a blood pressure test as a part of a routine doctor's appointment or as a screening for high blood pressure (hypertension). Many people, such as those with high blood pressure, do their own blood pressure tests at home so that they can better track their health.

Why Is The Procedure Used?

To screen for hypertension:

1.Malignant hypertension is extremely high blood pressure that develops rapidly and causes some type of organ damage. "Normal" blood pressure is below 140/90. A person with malignant hypertension has a blood pressure that's typically above 180/120. Malignant hypertension should be treated as a medical emergency.

In many people, high blood pressure is the main cause of malignant hypertension. Missing doses of blood pressure medications can also cause it. In addition, there are certain medical conditions that can cause it. They include:

  • Collagen vascular disease, such as scleroderma
  • Kidney disease
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Tumor of the adrenal gland
  • Use of certain medications, including birth control pills and MAOIs
  • Use of illegal drugs, such as cocaine

Who Should Have The Procedure?

You are at greater risk of developing it if you are a man, African-American, or someone of lower economic status. Poor access to health care increases the risk.

When Should The Procedure Be Done?

You should have a blood pressure test performed at least once every two years to screen for high blood pressure as a risk factor for heart disease and stroke, starting at age 18. Your doctor may recommend screening at a younger age if there are additional risk factors for developing heart disease, such as being overweight or having a family history of high blood pressure or heart disease. If you've already been diagnosed with high or low blood pressure, you should have blood pressure tests more frequently.

What Are The Normal Results Of The Procedure?

Top number (systolic) in mm HgBottom number (diastolic) in mm HgYour category*What to do †

*Ranges may be lower for children and teenagers. Talk to your child's doctor if you're concerned your child has high blood pressure.

†Note: These recommendations address high blood pressure as a single health condition. If you also have heart disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease or certain other conditions, you may need to treat your blood pressure more aggressively.

Below 120and Below 80Normal blood pressureMaintain or adopt a healthy lifestyle.

Between 120-139or Between 80-89PrehypertensionMaintain or adopt a healthy lifestyle.

Between 140-159or Between 90-99Stage 1 hypertensionMaintain or adopt a healthy lifestyle. If your blood pressure goal isn't reached in about a month, talk to your doctor about taking one or more medications.

160 or higheror 100 or higherStage 2 hypertensionMaintain or adopt a healthy lifestyle. Talk to your doctor about taking more than one medication.

What Are The Implications Of Abnormally High And Low Blood Pressure?

Other complications depend on how the rise in blood pressure affects your organs. A common symptom is bleeding and swelling in the tiny bloodvessels in the retina. The retina is the layer of nerves that line the back of the eye. It senses light and sends signals to the brain through the optic nerve, which can also be affected by malignant hypertension. When the eye is involved, malignant hypertension can cause changes in vision.
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