Facts about Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)

Author: Kryijztoff (Kryz) Novotnaj, BHA, GBA, CBP, CCMA, CWS, MPHi-CE

Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)

“Blood pressure” is the force of blood as it moves and pushes against your artery walls as the heart pumps out blood. Hypertension describes a condition when your blood pressure rises and stays high over an extended period of time. When this occurs, hypertension can cause damage to your body…not just your heart, but other organs and their functionality as well. Hypertension is a serious condition that can lead to coronary heart disease (CAD), heart failure, stroke, kidney failure and other health problems.

Hypertension Stages

Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). The first number indicates systolic blood pressure. The second number is diastolic blood pressure.

The systolic pressure (the first and higher number) is the force that blood exerts on your artery walls as your heart contract to pump out blood. Having a high systolic pressure causes greater risk to other organs and systems such as your brain, heart, kidney, and circulatory system and is more commonly the cause of death. The force that relaxes your heart and that allows blood to flow back into the heart is the diastolic pressure (the second and lower number). If you have a high diastolic pressure number, it is an indication of potential heart attack and stroke, particularly in young adults.

The greater the distance between your systolic and diastolic numbers, the greater the danger.

If your systolic blood pressure between 120 and 139 or if your diastolic pressure between 80 and 89, you may be considered to be Pre-Hypertensive. This means you may be at risk for developing hypertension. Pre-hypertension can be treated and managed through changes in lifestyle behaviors, such lowering intake of sodium (salt), exercise, quitting smoking, diet, etc. Your doctor will prescribe the right treatment to manage you condition. Blood pressure medication is typically not prescribed unless you have diabetes or other conditions related to kidney disease and/or if lifestyle changes are ineffective.

If your systolic blood pressure is between 140 and 159 or your diastolic pressure is between 90 and 99, you may have Stage 1 Hypertension. As with Pre-hypertension, you will be prescribed similar lifestyle and behavior changes. It is also likely that some form of blood pressure medication will be needed to manage your hypertension. Some drugs in the initial treatment phase may include a specific diuretic, which will help rid the body of extra fluid and salt.

If your systolic blood pressure is 160 or higher or your diastolic pressure is 100 or higher, you may have Stage 2 Hypertension. Stage 1, it will be required that you modify your lifestyle and behavior, as well as take treatment using a diuretic. Additionally, other anti-hypertensive medications, known as ACE inhibitors (Angiotensin Converting Enzyme) are required in more than 2/3rds of patients with Stage 2.


In healthcare, providers and hospitals use medical coding to charge for procedures. Regarding hypertension, your doctor or your facility will use a combination of revenue codes (facility cost center codes), CPT codes (actual procedure performed) and HCPCS codes (typically materials and supplies). These codes are supported by an ICD-9 code (diagnosis) that allows a provider to “bundle” other codes for your costs. A typical cost for hypertension diagnosis includes the cost of a first visit with a doctor at an office or an urgent care clinic that lasts approximately 30 minutes, laboratory tests, which may include complete blood count (CBC), cardiac stress test as well as the cost for your medication.

Quality v. Quantity

“Why is quality just as important to quantity (the costs)? “ Think of it this way: When buying a new car, you want to make sure it has all of the right features to make for the perfect driving experience; without them, you are less likely to buy the car. After all, that same car down the street might be cheaper, but it might come without a radio. But, is it still a good buy? As you see, cost and quality are both important when buying a car, just as they are important when treating your hypertension. While diagnosing hypertension is a relatively standard procedure, the doctor may be more expensive than the doctor down the street, who may be cheaper AND be a specialist in services pertaining cardiology or endocrinology.

While some cases it is hard to determine which is more important, consider the following before getting services:

Don’t delay care If you have blurry vision, severe, constant headaches, confusion or have lost consciousness or irregular nosebleeds seek treatment immediately. Delaying treatment can cause further injury and could become life threatening.
Get care at the right place Call your doctor or advice nurse for treatment suggestions; they may save you the cost of an office visit.If you feel you need medical care, see your primary care doctor. Primary care doctors keep track of your medical history, whereas doctors in urgent care centers often do not send your records to your primary doctorIf you can’t see your primary care doctor, consider going to an urgent care clinic. Generally, urgent care clinics offer the same quality as a doctor’s visit and are cheaper than hospital emergency rooms.

Don’t go to an emergency room unless you think you have a medical emergency.

See doctors who are in your network. Your insurance plan has negotiated lower rates with doctors in your network.

Prepare for your visit Know your symptoms. Your doctor will likely ask you about head pain, dizziness, nausea, loss of vision and irregular activities, such as nose bleeds. You may also be asked about diet as well as other health conditions.Bring a list of questions for the doctor and be specific about the activities that may have caused your injury. Doctors will need as much detail as possible to best treat your injury. Since doctor visits can be rushed, people often leave before getting all their questions answered.
Follow doctors orders It is important that you take care of your hypertension so you don’t further complicate your hypertension.


  • You have a higher risk of high blood pressure if you:
  1. Are African American
  2. Are obese
  3. Are often stressed or anxious
  4. Eat too much salt in your diet
  5. Have a family history of high blood pressure
  6. Have diabetes
  7. Smoke
  • About one out of three U.S. adults—31.3%—has high blood pressure.
  • High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, congestive heart failure, and kidney disease.
  • High blood pressure was listed as a primary or contributing cause of death for 326,000 Americans in 2006.
  • In 2010, high blood pressure will cost the United States $76.6 billion in health care services, medications, and missed days of work.
  • About 70% of those with high blood pressure and took medication had their high blood pressure controlled. The control rate was 46.6% among all hypertensive patients.
  • 25% of American adults have prehypertension—blood pressure numbers that are higher than normal, but not yet in the high blood pressure range.
  • Prehypertension raises your risk for high blood pressure.
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