Health & Fitness
30 Things Everyone Should Know About High Blood Pressure
By Kristie Holt
- Your heart beats 100,000 time every day. With each beat, blood is moved from your heart to the rest of your body through blood vessels.
- Blood pressure is the force of blood against the inside walls of your vessels.
- If blood pressure is too high, blood vessels can become damaged over time. This may happen without causing any symptoms.
- High blood pressure can lead to serious problems, including heart disease stroke and kidney damage.
- The medical name for high blood pressure is hypertension.
- Blood pressure readings are shown in two numbers. The top number is called the systolic reading. It shows the force of blood against the inside walls of the vessels as the heart beats. The bottom number is called the diastolic reading. It shows the force of blood as the hearth relaxes between beats.
- A normal blood pressure is less than 120/80 (said as “120 over 80”).
- A blood pressure reading from 120/80 to 139/89 is called “prehypertension.” It means that high blood pressure may happen in the future.
- A blood pressure reading of 140/90 or greater is high.
- One in three (33%) American adults has high blood pressure. Many of them do not know it.
- High blood pressure is known as the “silent killer” because it often has no symptoms.
- The only way to tell if you have high blood pressure is to have it checked.
- You can have your blood pressure checked by your health care provider or at your health clinic.
- Blood pressure screenings are also offered at drugstores and health fairs.
- If you have your blood pressure checked at a screening day or drugstore and your numbers are too high, tell your health care provider.
- High blood pressure can happen at any age, but it is most common in people aged 35 and older.
- Although many people get high blood pressure as they age, it is not a normal part of getting older.
- High blood pressure is more common and more severe in African Americans.
- High blood pressure may run in families.
- The cause of high blood pressure is often not known.
- Many things can increase your risk for high blood pressure, including having diabetes or kidney disease.
- Being overweight can increase your blood pressure.
- Smoking is especially dangerous for people with high blood pressure.
- In most cases, high blood pressure cannot be cured, but it can be controlled.
- High blood pressure can be managed with a healthy lifestyle and medications when needed.
- Regular exercise may help lower blood pressure.
- Eating a low-fat, heart-healthy diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats and poultry can help you lose extra weight and lower your blood pressure.
- Limiting salt and sodium may also help control your blood pressure. Use less salt when preparing or eating your meals. Check food labels and avoid foods high in sodium.
- Alcohol can affect blood pressure. If you do drink alcohol, talk to your health care provider about a safe limit for you.
- Lifestyle changes may not be enough to lower blood pressure. Your health care provider may recommend medication as well as lifestyle changes.
High blood pressure can lead to serious health problems, but many people with high blood pressure don’t know they have it. While there is no cure, you can manage high blood pressure with diet, exercise and medication. For more information, talk with your health care provider. Or visit http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/hbp on the Internet.