Could You Have High Blood Pressure and Not Know It?

The issue of high blood pressure is well-understood. You may be perfectly aware of the condition, and you may even know it runs in your family. However, you may also be blissfully unaware of whether it actually affects you. 

This could be due to the fact that, in 2017, guidelines for high and normal blood pressure changed, increasing the numbers of those who are at-risk and suffering from the condition. If you haven’t noticed any symptoms or haven’t been to the doctor in a while, you might have no idea this change occurred.  

Whether you know of the change in guidelines or not, it’s quite possible for you to develop high blood pressure without being aware you have it. If you have high blood pressure or suspect you have it, our doctors Douglas R. Grogan and Jennifer Hall Difalco, as well as the rest of our team of health care professionals at Bethel Family Medicine, can give you a full evaluation and provide needed treatment.

The new rules for high blood pressure

As your heart pumps, the blood pressure in your arteries increases and decreases. Your heart contracts and puts pressure on the walls of your arteries. This is called systolic blood pressure. Your heart puts the least pressure on your arteries as it rests between beats. This is called diastolic blood pressure.

If your systolic blood pressure is 120 or under and your diastolic blood pressure is 79 or under, you have normal blood pressure. However, a regular systolic reading of 130 or more and a diastolic reading of 80 or more means you have high blood pressure. 

The cutoff for hypertension used to be 140 over 90, which is why many people think they don’t have high blood pressure even though they actually do. 

Keep in mind that your blood pressure changes throughout the day. An occasional high reading may not be cause for alarm if your regular readings are normal.

What puts you at risk for hypertension

There are many risk factors that can contribute to the development of high blood pressure, including genetics. Not all risk factors occur independently and some even work together to increase your chance of getting hypertension. The more risk factors you have, the more likely it is that you’ll develop high blood pressure. Risk factors include: 

Tobacco use

Whether you smoke, chew, or breathe in second-hand smoke, the chemicals in tobacco can increase the formation of plaque in your blood vessels, upping your likelihood of developing hypertension.

Drinking alcohol

Heavy alcohol use over time can damage your heart, which can lead to increased blood pressure.

Weight gain

Obesity causes your heart to work overtime in order to supply your body with blood.

Sedentary lifestyle

Without regular physical activity, your heart may beat faster and work harder to do the little things like helping you walk up a flight of stairs.


Chronic stress can raise your blood pressure by itself or contribute to hypertension.

Other medical issues

Diabetes and sleep apnea can also contribute to high blood pressure. Even pregnancy can increase your chances of developing high blood pressure. 

Want to learn more about hypertension?

If you have high blood pressure or want to better understand your risk factors, contact Bethel Family Medicine in Brockton, Massachusetts. We can help you figure out if you do have high blood pressure and get you the treatment needed to manage it. Call our office or book an appointment online to get started. 

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