Risk Factors for Hypertension and How It Is Diagnosed
Hypertension can only be diagnosed after taking several readings to find your average blood pressure. Your blood pressure needs to be taken at least two times, and each reading must be from a different day. If the average of these blood pressure readings is more than 140/90, you have hypertension.
A single reading that is more than 140/90 doesn't necessarily mean that you have hypertension. However, your healthcare provider probably will want to monitor your blood pressure over time to see if it stays there. You can also have hypertension if the average of only one of the numbers (systolic or diastolic) is too high (see Isolated Systolic Hypertension).
Hypertension does not cause problems over days, weeks, or even months; rather, it causes problems over many years, and it can affect your entire body. By adding strain to the blood vessel walls, hypertension makes them more likely to develop a buildup of fat and cholesterol -- also known as "hardening" of the arteries. This, in turn, puts extra strain on your heart as it pumps blood through the narrowed arteries.
Over time, the strain this condition places on the heart and blood vessels can increase the risk of certain health problems, such as: