High blood pressure

What to know about blood pressure

High blood pressure – or hypertension – usually has no symptoms. But it can cause serious problems, such as stroke, heart disease, heart attacks and kidney failure. That's why having your blood pressure checked regularly is important – even when you're feeling fine.

How to help prevent and treat high blood pressure

Even if you aren't sure or don't currently have high blood pressure, you can take steps to keep your blood pressure under control. Consider these lifestyle choices:

  • Following a healthy eating plan that includes limiting the amount of sodium and alcohol that you consume
  • Losing weight if you're overweight or obese
  • Exercising regularly
  • Quitting smoking
  • Managing your stress

If you have high blood pressure, your doctor will recommend treatment options to prevent long-term problems. In addition to recommending heart healthy lifestyle choices, your doctor may prescribe medication or a special diet.

DASH to lower your blood pressure

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension plan is aimed at lowering your blood pressure by focusing on the combinations of nutrients in wholesome foods.

Talk to your doctor

Be proactive. Talk to your doctor about ways to keep your blood pressure in check if you are obese, smoke, don't exercise regularly or eat an unhealthy diet.

Most doctors, clinics and hospitals check your blood pressure with every visit. If you know you're going to have your blood pressure tested, it's a good idea to:

  • Avoid drinking coffee or smoking cigarettes for 30 minutes prior to the test. These actions may cause a short-term rise in your blood pressure.
  • Go to the bathroom before the test. Having a full bladder can change your blood pressure reading.
  • Sit for 5 minutes before the test. Movement can cause short-term rises in blood pressure.

If your blood pressure is high, your doctor may have you return for more tests to check your blood pressure over time before making a diagnosis.

Questions to ask your doctor about blood pressure monitoring at home

  • What is my target blood pressure?
  • How often and at what time of day should I check my blood pressure?
  • Are there blood pressure numbers I should bring to your attention immediately?
  • What lifestyle changes would you recommend for me?
  • Is there a type of blood pressure monitor you could recommend for me? And should I bring it to my doctor visits to check for accuracy?


The information provided here is for general informational purposes only and not intended to be nor should be construed as medical or other advice. You should consult your own doctor and/or an appropriate professional to determine what may be right for you. Treatment options mentioned may not be covered by your benefit plan. Check your plan for specific coverage details.