What is high blood pressure?

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a common condition that occurs when blood pressure increases to an unhealthy level for a prolonged period. The force of blood pushing against the blood vessel walls determines the level of blood pressure.

When your blood pressure is constantly high, it causes your heart to pump harder. Over time, this might eventually lead to cardiovascular diseases such as stroke or heart failure.

What causes high blood pressure?

There are two types of high blood pressure and each has different causes.

Primary Hypertension

Also known as essential hypertension, this is the most common type of high blood pressure that develops gradually over the years. There are a few factors that may contribute to this, which include:

  • Genes: People with certain genetic disorders are predisposed to high blood pressure.
  • Unhealthy Lifestyle: Lack of physical activity and poor diet can lead to obesity, which will increase your risk for hypertension.
  • Ageing: The increase in blood pressure is often associated with ageing.

Secondary Hypertension

This type of high blood pressure occurs quickly and can be more severe than primary hypertension. It is usually triggered by a complication of other health issues such as kidney disease, thyroid or hormonal problems.

What are the symptoms of high blood pressure?

Hypertension is often referred to as a silent killer because of its undetectable symptoms. Most people do not experience any symptoms, and it might take years for the symptoms to become noticeable.

You might experience the following symptoms if your condition has reached a severe stage:

  • Headache
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Blurring of vision

What are the complications of high blood pressure?

Constant high blood pressure can damage blood vessels and organs over time due to excessive pressure on artery walls. This might lead to complications of other health problems such as:

How is high blood pressure diagnosed?

Besides noting your symptoms and medical history, your doctor will perform a physical examination to check your blood pressure. To measure your reading, the doctor will place an inflatable arm cuff around your upper arm.

A blood pressure reading has two numbers, measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg).

Top Number (Systolic Pressure)

The first number measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats.

Bottom Number (Diastolic Pressure)

The second number measures the pressure in your arteries between heartbeats.

A normal or healthy blood pressure reading should be lower than 130/80 mmHg. A reading of 140/90 mmHg or above is an indication of high blood pressure.

Your doctor may also perform other diagnostic tests such as blood tests to check for underlying health problems associated with your high blood pressure.

What treatments are there for high blood pressure?

For high blood pressure treatment, lifestyle modifications are effective in controlling or lowering your blood pressure. The doctor may recommend the following lifestyle changes to manage your condition:

  • Consume less salt and saturated fat
  • Include healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables in your diet
  • Get regular physical activity or exercise
  • Lose weight if you are overweight or obese
  • Limit the consumption of alcohol
  • Avoid smoking

Depending on your condition and medical history, the doctor may also prescribe blood pressure medications such as diuretics or beta-blockers to treat hypertension.

If you have a chronic case of high blood pressure, consider going for regular health screening to monitor your health condition.


No. Aspirin does not lower blood pressure.

It is unusual for caffeine to cause a blood pressure spike. Check with your doctor on whether you should limit or avoid caffeinated beverages based on your health condition.

Make An Appointment

Make an appointment online to consult our specialists in geriatric medicine at Raffles Internal Medicine Centre. To make an appointment, select "Specialist Appointment". Under Specialist Appointment Details, select "Geriatrics", and include High Blood Pressure in the ​Remarks.

Make an enquiry. We will get back to you within 2 working days. You can reach us at 6311 1200.

Contact Raffles Internal Medicine Centre

Make an enquiry if you require more information.

Our staff will get back to you within 2 working days.