9 Myths About Blood Pressure

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Greg McConnell on June 19, 2021
  • nurse-checking-blood-pressure
    Separate Fact from Fiction
    About one in three American adults has high blood pressure. Having untreated high blood pressure can lead to serious health problems, including coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke, and kidney failure. Do you have the facts about blood pressure? Check out the following slides to see if you have believed any myths.
  • portrait-of-an-elderly-man-getting-a-headache
    Is Lower Always Better? Myth No. 1
    Low blood pressure isn't anything to worry about.

    Fact: Low blood pressure, or hypotension, can be a concern if it causes symptoms, such as dizziness, fainting, or even shock. Dizziness or fainting could lead to a serious fall. Shock, if not treated immediately, could end in death. However, it's true that low blood pressure is actually normal for some people.
  • healthcare-worker-with-young-girl-patient
    Can Younger People Wait? Myth No. 2
    It's not important to have your blood pressure checked until you reach age 40.

    Fact: The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends screening for high blood pressure starting at age 18. However, others might recommend starting even sooner. During adolescence, age, body size, and level of sexual development have roles in determining blood pressure.
  • man-doing-crossword-puzzle
    I Don't Have Symptoms! Myth No. 3
    Nervousness, sweating, and trouble sleeping are some symptoms of high blood pressure.

    Fact: High blood pressure doesn't have symptoms. In fact, nearly one-third of U.S. adults with high blood pressure don't even know they have it. A simple blood pressure measurement can find those affected, yet still undiagnosed. 
  • variety-of-fast-food
    Double Trouble: Myth No. 4
    If you have high cholesterol, you must have high blood pressure, too.

    Fact: Many of the same poor lifestyle choices, such as eating a high-fat diet or not exercising enough, tend to increase cholesterol levels and blood pressure. However, it's possible to have high cholesterol without having high blood pressure.
  • Taking-medicine
    Putting on the Brakes: Myth No. 5
    Once you start feeling better, it's OK to stop taking your medicine for high blood pressure.

    Fact: If your doctor has prescribed medicine for your high blood pressure, follow his or her exact directions closely. It would be dangerous for you to decrease dosage or stop taking the medication without your doctor's approval.
  • Woman-reading-in-bed
    A Man's Disease? Myth No. 6
    Only men have to worry about getting high blood pressure.

    Fact:  Women can have high blood pressure, too. Some women who might be at an increased risk for high blood pressure include those who are:

    • Overweight

    • Taking a birth control pill

    • Pregnant

    • Related to people with high blood pressure

    • African-American

    • Post menopause

  • Woman-taking-a-pill
    If It's "Over the Counter"...Myth No. 7
    All over-the-counter cold and flu medications are safe for people with high blood pressure.

    Fact: The active ingredients in decongestants can increase blood pressure and could possibly interfere with blood pressure medications. Be sure to buy cold and flu medications that don't have decongestants. Always ask the pharmacist for help if you any medication concerns.
  • female-patient-injecting-insulin-into-her-arm
    Insulin a Cause? Myth No. 8
    Taking insulin causes arteries to harden and high blood pressure.

    Fact: In the past, some doctors were concerned that insulin might contribute to hardening of arteries and high blood pressure. But we now know this isn't the case. By stabilizing blood glucose levels, insulin actually helps prevent further blood vessel damage in diabetics.
  • patient-talking-to-doctor
    It's Just at the Doctor's Office...Myth No. 9
    Your blood pressure readings at the doctor office continue to be high, but your blood pressure is probably fine at home. You just get nervous going to the doctor.

    Fact: It's possible to have white-coat hypertension, which is when nervousness temporarily raises blood pressure during a doctor visit. But never ignore multiple readings that suggest high blood pressure. Try logging your blood pressure measurements at home over a period of time, and then share them at your next doctor visit.
9 Myths About Blood Pressure

About The Author

  1. Screening for High Blood Pressure. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. http://www.ahrq.gov/clinic/uspstf07/hbp/hbprs.htm
  2. Common Misconceptions About High Blood Pressure. American Heart Association. http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=3008517
  3. Diabetes Myths. American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-myths.jsp
  4. High Blood Pressure. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. National Institutes of Health. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/Hbp/HBP_WhatIs.html
  5. Hypotension. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. National Institutes of Health. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/hyp/hyp_whatis.html
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Last Review Date: 2021 Jun 19
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.