High blood pressure: What it is and what you should know

November 7, 2018

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, means the pressure of the blood in your blood vessels is higher than it should be. Most people have no symptoms, even when their blood pressure is unusually high. In fact, about one in five people don’t know they have it. For this reason, it is often called a “silent killer.”

What is considered high blood pressure?

Blood pressure above 140 over 90 is considered high.

What causes high blood pressure?

A few things that play a role in its development, includes:

SmokingBeing overweightLack of physical activityToo much salt in the dietDrinking too much alcohol (more than 1 to 2 drinks per day)Older ageFamily history of high blood pressure (heredity)Race (African Americans have high blood pressure more often and more severely than white Americans)Having chronic kidney disease

Why is high blood pressure bad?

High blood pressure can harden your arteries, which decreases the flow of blood and oxygen to your heart and leads to heart disease including heart failure. It is also a risk factor for stroke, chronic kidney disease and End Stage Renal Disease.

How do I find out my current blood pressure?

Have your blood pressure checked on your next visit to your health provider. Reducing your blood pressure can help reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure.

How Is high blood pressure treated?

If you have high blood pressure, you need to take steps now to get it under control. Your healthcare provider may suggest you do one or more of the following:

• Lose weight

• Quit smoking

• Eat foods lower in salt and fat

• Eat more fruits and vegetables

• Drink less alcohol

• Be more active

If these changes are not enough to lower your blood pressure, your doctor may also prescribe a medicine. And along with the medicine, you still need to eat right and exercise.

Have your blood pressure checked on a regular basis to see how you’re doing. Take steps now.

Blood Pressure Levels


Systolic (the number on the top): less than 120

diastolic: the number on the bottom) less than 80

At risk (prehypertension)

Systolic: 120–139 diastolic: 80–89


Systolic: 140 or higher

Diastolic: 90 or higher



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