Text size: zoom in zoom out original size about us
Heart Failure

Understanding High Blood Pressure

Our blood pressure varies throughout the day. It also varies after exercise or while experiencing fear or pain. As we grow older, our blood pressure increases. Experiencing a temporary increase in our blood pressure at times is also normal.

For certain people, their blood pressure are constantly high. When a person's blood pressure reads at more than 140/90mmHg constantly, the patient is suffering from a condition known as high blood pressure or hypertension. The term "hyper" means "too much" and the word, "tension", refers to the pressure placed on the walls of the arteries. Thus, hypertension refers to a condition in which the blood is pumped to all parts of the body at a much higher pressure.


For most people, there is no symptom at the early stage. However, if a person has a high blood pressure that is severe or long-standing and is left untreated, the following symptoms may occur:

  • Headache
  • Feeling fatigue
  • Feeling nauseated
  • Vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Restlessness
  • Blurred vision

The best way to detect high blood pressure is to undergo a blood pressure test.


In 10% of the patients, high blood pressure may be caused by kidney disease, disorders of the endocrine system, narrowing of certain arteries or abnormality in the structure of the aorta (the large blood vessel leaving the heart). For many of such cases, particularly cases with endocrine and vascular causes, the condition can be cured through surgery.

Currently, there is no explanation for the remaining 90% patients who are suffering from high blood pressure. However, there is evidence to suggest that such cases of high blood pressure are associated with risk factors that are hereditary and lifestyle related.

Are you at risk?

Risk factors include:

  • Family history of high blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Excessive salt intake
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Excessive alcohol intake
  • Feeling constantly stressed


If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, your doctor will:

  • review your medical history
  • examine for signs of complications e.g. heart failure
  • conduct relevant blood and urine tests
  • perform a chest X-ray examination
  • request for you to undergo an ECG (electrocardiogram)

What happens if your blood pressure is not controlled?

Untreated and poorly-controlled high blood pressure will lead to serious complications such as:

  • Heart attack
  • Heart failure
  • Stroke
  • Kidney failure
  • Blindness


High blood pressure is a lifelong disease. It can be controlled but not cured. The aim of the treatment is to prevent further complications from the disease. Before any medications for high blood pressure are prescribed, doctors will advise patients on adjusting and making healthy changes to their current lifestyle.

If lifestyle changes are unable to control high blood pressure, medications will then be prescribed. To achieve good blood pressure control, doctors may recommend the use of more than one type of medication.


The chances of getting high blood pressure can be reduced by:

  • Reducing body weight for those who are overweight
  • Reducing salt or sodium intake in your diet
  • Increasing fibre and reducing fat intake in your diet
  • Quit smoking
  • Exercising regularly
  • Avoiding excessive intake of alcohol
  • Managing your stress


Find out more information from:

Health Promotion Board
National Healthcare Group
Singapore Health Services
Singapore Heart Foundation
National Heart Centre Singapore


1. What is Blood Pressure?

Blood Pressure is the force of blood against the wall of the arteries. Systolic pressure is the pressure as the heart beats. Diastolic pressure is the pressure while the heart is at rest. Blood Pressure is written systolic over diastolic. For example, 110/75, 110 is the systolic pressure and 75 is the diastolic pressure.

2. What is High Blood Pressure?

High Blood Pressure is diagnosed as a measure of at least 130/85 mm Hg on three separate occasions.

3. What can result from High Blood Pressure?

One may feel perfectly well with high blood pressure without any symptoms, and look healthy despite having a raised blood pressure for many years. High blood pressure continues to make the blood vessels harder and narrower until there is a complete blockage of blood flow in the blood vessels. High blood pressure if not treated and poorly controlled will lead to serious complications such as:

  • Heart attack
  • Heart failure
  • Stroke
  • Kidney failure
  • Blindness

4. Why is it important to take high blood pressure medications regularly?

One should not stop taking high blood pressure medications without a doctor's consent. The medication only works when taken regularly as prescribed. If you stopped taking your medication, it can cause a sudden, life-threatening increase in your blood pressure. Also, you should continue to keep the lifestyle changes while on medication.

5. Do I need to measure my blood pressure at home?

You can check your blood pressure regularly at home with an electronic automatic blood pressure machine. The machines are battery operated and are easy to use. The readings on the machine can provide useful information for your doctor and also for your own tracking of your daily blood pressure. You can ask the pharmacist on the machine that is best suited to your needs and learn how to take your pressure at home.

This article is reproduced with the permission from Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) and Singapore Sliver Pages.

For more information, please visit

Other Articles View All Articles
Incontinence is the uncontrolled leakage of urine from the bladder. There are many types of incontinence and before treatment can be advised.
Low Back Pain
Low back pain is one of the most common pain disorders. It is a chronic condition characterised by a persistent pain in the lower back.
Osteoporosis refers to porous bones. It is a condition where a person's bones become weak, brittle and becomes easily fractured (crack or break).
Parkinson's Disease
Parkinson's Disease is a progressive degenerative medical condition that affects neurons (nerve cells) that use dopamine, a neurotransmitter.