High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

High blood pressure, or hypertension, increases your risk of coronary heart disease (heart attack) and stroke.

Blood pressure is the force of the blood pushing against the artery walls. With high blood pressure, the arteries may have an increased resistance against the flow of blood, causing the heart to pump harder to circulate blood.

High blood pressure usually has no signs or symptoms, but you can know if your blood pressure is high by having it checked regularly by your health care provider.

High Blood Pressure Evaluation

At UT Southwestern Medical Center, our physicians will evaluate your elevated blood pressure levels to determine if it is primary hypertension, the most common type for which there is no identifiable cause, or secondary hypertension, which is caused by an underlying condition, such as kidney disorders.

Primary Hypertension

The evaluation will also include a thorough examination of your risk factors for primary hypertension, which include:

  • Age (Risk increases as you get older.)
  • Ethnicity (African Americans are at greater risk of developing high blood pressure earlier.)
  • Excess stress
  • Excess weight
  • Family history
  • Lack of regular exercise
  • Tobacco use
  • Too little potassium in your diet
  • Too much salt or alcohol in your diet 

Secondary Hypertension

The causes of secondary hypertension include:

  • Adrenal disease
  • Drugs
  • Endocrine disease (including thyroid and parathyroid)
  • Genetic diseases
  • Kidney disease
  • Metabolic problems
  • Neurological diseases
  • Pregnancy
  • Renovascular hypertension (kidney vessels)
  • Toxins
  • Vascular (blood vessels)

Blood Pressure Measurement

UT Southwestern’s hypertension specialists will categorize your blood pressure on a scale defined by the American Heart Association. The systolic number measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats. The diastolic number measures pressure in the arteries between heartbeats. Measures are in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg).

CategorySystolic
mm Hg
Diastolic
mm Hg
Normal Less than 120 and Less than 80
Prehypertension 120 – 139 or 80 – 89
Hypertension Stage 1 140 – 159 or 90 – 99
Hypertension Stage 2 160 or higher or 100 or higher

If your blood pressure is high, your UT Southwestern physician may order tests (such as a urine test, blood test, echocardiogram, or electrocardiogram) to help determine the source of the problem and to gauge if hypertension has caused damage to your kidneys and heart. Additional tests for diabetes and high cholesterol may also be performed.

As part of their evaluation, our physicians will also review any other medications you may be taking, since some can have an adverse effect on blood pressure and blood pressure medications.

Request an Appointment

To schedule an appointment with a high blood pressure expert at UT Southwestern's facilities in Dallas or for more information about our services, request an appointment or call 214-645-8300.