Hi Carol, :)
it sounds like you should have a talk with your doctor. You certainly are at a higher risk because hypertension is in your family. I had a discussion about genetic issues and hypertension with a surgeon today. Unfortunately, very few people with a family history of hypertension retain normal blood pressure. There could be other risk factors as well that you may not yet be aware of. Do you smoke? You need to have a cardiovascular risk evaluation done and perhaps some basic tests, especially the kidney function. Daff is right, it usually takes several (at least two, more would be better) high blood pressure readings at the doctor's office, taken several weeks apart, to diagnose hypertension. There are exceptions. Sometimes the high blood pressure is quite obvious. In people with several risk factors present delaying antihypertensive therapy is not an option and it is started rightaway. If your usual home readings are in the 150's/100's range, you need medication ASAP. With these numbers, you'll probably be started on two medications. Each medication can bring about a reduction in blood pressure of about 10-15mm/Hg, if it works as expected. Sometimes it doesn't. You might consider trying a different medication - unless you were happy with Atenolol or it is indicated due to other medical issues. In any case, unless yours was a single reading taken after an exercise or when you were stressed, your blood pressure should be treated. The side effects of one or two medications should not be too bad. The consequences of not taking any, if your blood pressure is high, are.