What Are Causes of a High Diastolic Blood Pressure?

By Amy Rozanski-harlach

  • Overview

    High blood pressure means the heart is pumping the blood in the body at a higher force than normal. Measuring your blood pressure is actually measuring the pressure that is being pushed upon the artery walls, which narrow with high blood pressure. The diastolic number in your blood pressure is the lower number or second number. A number of factors can contribute to why the diastolic number would be high.
  • History of Diastolic

    Diastolic pressure measures the force as the heart relaxes in between beats. This is when blood typically flows to the heart. Your diastolic pressure changes frequently throughout the day and can change due to posture, level of exercise, level of activity, amount of tension and nicotine use. If you're someone who needs to record your diastolic blood pressure each day, it's important to measure it a number of times throughout the day and record an average for that day.
  • What Constitutes High Diastolic

    Normal blood pressure for an adult is typically around 120 over 80. Prehypertension is classified as a reading of 120-139 (systolic) over 80-89 (diastolic). The first stage of hypertension measures 140-159 over 90-99 and moderate to severe hypertension reads 160 over 100 or higher. The second number or lower number in all those readings is the diastolic number and if that falls in another category other than the normal range, a high diastolic blood pressure is occurring.


  • Causes

    Some people suffer from high blood pressure with no known causes. Sometimes genetics can play a part in high blood pressure and this occurs approximately 30 percent of the time. Even those who follow a healthy diet and exercise regularly can fall victim to high diastolic blood pressure without any underlying health concern being present. Certain kidney diseases can cause high diastolic blood pressure by a narrowing of the artery that is the supplier of blood flow to the kidneys. Older people with this condition can have this happen because of a thickening of the artery wall due to a plaque buildup. Also tumors on the adrenal glands, which sit upon the kidneys, can cause a high diastolic blood pressure. Obesity, an unhealthy lifestyle and other environmental factors can contribute to a high diastolic blood pressure. Fatty foods, salty foods, high caffeine or nicotine intake, coupled with a lack of exercise, and added stress can greatly increase the risk for high blood pressure.
  • Symptoms

    High blood pressure is a silent killer. Many times symptoms are not present or may not be obvious as a blood pressure issue. When symptoms are present, they can present themselves as a headache, dizziness, blurred vision, shortness of breath, hot flashes, excessive sweating or fatigue. Symptoms of a more severe issue related to high blood pressure can include blind spots in one or both eyes, numbness in parts of the body (usually just on one side), chest pain or irregular heart beat.
  • Risk Factors

    A high diastolic number can indicate a higher risk for heart disease. The risk of stroke and heart attack in someone with a high diastolic number (alone or along with a high systolic number) is high. Damage to the heart increases with a high diastolic pressure and this can lead to heart failure, irregular heart beat or other malfunctions of the heart. Use of beta blockers, blood pressure medication, diuretics and other heart related medications can help prevent damage and strokes from occurring. Damage can occur to the kidneys and a person's vision. Other physical symptoms can occur due to the improper functioning of the heart not allowing proper blood flow.
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