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African American Health

Borderline hypertensive

10/19/2007

Question:

My blood pressure is normaly 110/80 howeve, but I`ve notice that when I`m active like cleaning or cooking or excrising or walking or working my blood pressure goes up or when I get upset. My head start hurting as if it`s expanding and I feel my heart is pounding. This don`t happen everyday, only when I`m stressed. Other than that I`m fine. I`m easy going person. Hypertenison don`t run in my family. As a Black woman I`m concerned.

Answer:

The blood pressure is affected by many influences. Exercise, stress, anxiety, pain will all elevate blood pressure even in those without hypertension (or high blood pressure). Extremely high blood pressures can be achieved in the presence of these factors. However, hypertension is only diagnosed when the blood pressure is equal or greater than 140/90 mmHg after a 5 minute rest, in a quiet area, in a patient who has not smoked a cigarette or coffee within 30 min, and their blood pressure is measured according standard procedures. In addition, the blood pressure should be repeated and the average of the two should meet these criteria. If under the above circumstances, your blood pressure is 110/80, it is likely that you do not have to worry about having high blood pressure or hypertension.

However, you still need to continue to check your blood pressure. Even in patients who are not hypertensive by age 50, approximately 90% can still expect to get it over the next 20 yrs. Thus, I would recommend continuing life style measures designed to decrease risk of high blood pressure: regular aerobic exercise, restrict calories to decrease or maintain your weight at recommended levels, eat diets that are high in fruits, vegetables, grains, low fat dairy products, but low in salt.

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Response by:

Jackson T Wright, MD, PhD, FACP Jackson T Wright, MD, PhD, FACP
Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University