High blood pressure (hypertension) is a common condition that occurs when your blood pressure, the force of blood flowing through your blood vessels, is consistently too high.
Your blood pressure is determined both by the amount of blood your heart pumps, and the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries. The more blood your heart pumps and the narrower your arteries, the higher your blood pressure. A blood pressure reading is given in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg), and has two numbers.
- Top number (systolic pressure). The first, or upper, number measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats.
- Bottom number (diastolic pressure). The second, or lower, number measures the pressure in your arteries between beats.
You can have high blood pressure for years without knowing it, as it may not cause any side effects. Uncontrolled high blood pressure increases your risk of serious health problems, including heart attack and stroke. Fortunately, high blood pressure can be easily detected, and you can work with your doctor to control it.
Why High blood pressure is called a “silent killer”
- Most of the time there are no obvious symptoms.
- Certain physical traits and lifestyle choices can put you at a greater risk for high blood pressure.
- When left untreated, the damage that high blood pressure does to your circulatory system is a significant contributing factor to heart attack, stroke and other health threats.
Know your numbers
Preventing and managing HBP
- This is one time that the old adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” is particularly apt. It’s best to avoid high blood pressure altogether. Healthy lifestyle choices are a great place to start.
- With proper treatment and management, you can control your blood pressure to help you live a long and healthy life.