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High Blood Pressure



High blood pressure increases your risk of getting heart disease and for having a stroke.  High blood pressure is dangerous because it makes the heart work too hard.  It also makes the walls of the arteries hard.  High blood pressure is especially dangerous because it often has no warning signs or symptoms.

What is High Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure is the force of blood against the walls of arteries. Blood pressure is recorded as two numbers—the systolic pressure (as the heart beats) over the diastolic pressure (as the heart relaxes between beats). The measurement is written one above or before the other, with the systolic number on top and the diastolic number on the bottom. For example, a blood pressure measurement of 120/80 is expressed verbally as "120 over 80."

High blood pressure is any number above 120 systolic or 80 diastolic. 

  Systolic Diastolic
Normal less than 120 AND less than 80
Borderline High Blood Pressure 120-139 OR 80-89
High Blood Pressure Stage 1 140-159 OR 90-99
High Blood Pressure Stage 2 greater than 160 OR greater than 100

Who is at risk for High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is common. More than 1 in 4 Americans have high blood pressure. It is very common in African Americans, who may get it earlier in life and more often than whites. Many Americans tend to develop high blood pressure as they get older, but this is not a part of healthy aging. Middle-aged Americans face a 90% chance of developing high blood pressure during their lives. Others at risk for developing high blood pressure are the overweight, those with a family history of high blood pressure, and those with pre-hypertension (borderline high blood pressure) 120–139/80–89).

Click here to find out the symptoms of high blood pressure. 

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