High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

High Blood Pressure Blood pressure is a measurement of the force exerted against the walls of your arteries as your heart pumps blood to your body. Hypertension is the term used to describe high blood pressure.

High blood pressure is dangerous because it makes the heart work too hard and contributes to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). It increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, which are the first- and third-leading causes of death among Americans. High blood pressure also can result in other conditions, such as congestive heart failure, kidney disease, and blindness.

High blood pressure symptoms usually are not manifested, so periodic monitoring is important.

This test is part of Cardio-Med's physical exam.

Cardio-Med's In-Depth Blood Pressure Examination

At Cardio-Med, a detailed blood pressure evaluation is performed by the physician himself. This includes checking blood pressure in both arms in both the sitting and recumbent (lying down) position.

Differences in blood pressure readings between arms can indicate conditions such as

Blood pressure taken on one arm only, as is typically performed, cannot reveal these conditions.

These conditions can cause erroneously low blood pressure in one arm.

Read here about high blood pressure causes and symptoms.

Test Results

Blood pressure readings are given as two numbers. The top number is called the systolic blood pressure. The bottom number is called the diastolic blood pressure. For example, 120 over 80 (written as 120/80 mmHg).

One or both of these numbers can be too high. (Note: These numbers apply to people who are not taking medicines for blood pressure and are not ill.)

If you have heart or kidney problems, or you had a stroke, your physician may want your blood pressure to be even lower than that of people who do not have these conditions.

Exams and Tests

Your physician will measure your blood pressure many times before diagnosing you with high blood pressure. It is normal for your blood pressure to be different based on the time of day.

All adults should have their blood pressure checked every 1 to 2 years if their blood pressure was less than 120/80 mmHg at their most recent reading. If you have high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems, or certain other conditions, have your blood pressure checked more often. At least once every year.

Make sure you get a good-quality, well-fitting home blood pressure monitor. It should have the proper sized cuff and a digital readout. Practice with your physician to make sure you are taking your blood pressure correctly. You should be relaxed and seated for several minutes prior to taking a reading. Bring your home monitor to your appointments so your physician can make sure it is working correctly.

Your physician will do a physical exam to look for signs of heart disease, damage to the eyes, and other changes in your body.

Tests may also be done to look for:


The goal of treatment is to reduce your blood pressure so that you have a lower risk of complications. You and your physician should set a blood pressure goal for you.

If you have pre-hypertension, your physician will recommend lifestyle changes to bring your blood pressure down to a normal range. Medicines are rarely used for pre-hypertension.

You can do many things to help control your blood pressure at home, including:

Your physician can help you find programs for losing weight, stopping smoking and exercising.

You can also get a referral to a dietitian, who can help you plan a diet that is healthy for you.

How low your blood pressure should be and at what level you need to start treatment is individualized, based on your age and any medical problems you have.

Most of the time, your physician will try lifestyle changes first and check your pressure 2 or more times. Medicines will likely be started if your BP readings remain at or above these levels:

If you have diabetes, heart problems, or a history of a stroke, medicines may be started at lower blood pressure reading. The most commonly used blood pressure targets for people with these medical problems are below 130 to 140/80 mmHg.

There are many different medicines to treat high blood pressure.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Most of the time, high blood pressure can be controlled with medicine and lifestyle changes.

When blood pressure is not well-controlled, you are at risk for:

If you have high blood pressure, you will have regular checkups with your physician. Even if you have not been diagnosed with high blood pressure, it is important to have your blood pressure checked during your regular check-up, especially if someone in your family has or had high blood pressure.

Call your physician right away if home monitoring shows that your blood pressure is still high.


Most people can prevent high blood pressure from occurring by following lifestyle changes designed to bring blood pressure down.

Call (847)758-1230 today for an appointment and consultation with our physician.
Serving Chicago, IL and all of the Chicago northwest suburbs, southeastern Wisconsin and northwestern Indiana.

Adapted from the U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health

Physical Exam - Level I includes:

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