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What is high blood pressure?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

High blood pressure or hypertension is a repeatedly elevated blood pressure reading exceeding 140 over 90 mmHg. Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps blood blood through the body. If this pressure rises and stays high over time, it can damage the body in many ways. High blood pressure is a potentially serious condition that can result in coronary heart disease, heart failure, kidney failure, stroke and other health problems.

Many studies have been performed to determine how blood pressure corresponds to risk for medical problems, such as heart attack or stroke. Your healthcare provider will measure the pressure in your arm to determine if your blood pressure is high—at a level that could increase your risk for having a heart attack or stroke.

Blood pressure is the amount of force that your blood exerts when it pushes against artery walls in your body. Arteries are the blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood away from your heart to the rest of your body. If blood travels through your arteries with too much pressure, it can damage the walls of the arteries and contribute to cardiovascular diseases that lead to heart attack, stroke and other complications.

When your blood pressure reading is taken, your doctor will give you two numbers: the top number is called the systolic number, and the bottom one is called the diastolic number. The systolic number tells you the pressure of blood on your artery walls during your heartbeat (when the heart pumps blood out of the heart). The diastolic number is the pressure on your arteries in between beats when the heart is relaxing and refilling with blood as it gets ready to pump again. The important thing to know is that only a reading at or below 120/80 mmHg is normal.

Amy Jamieson-Petonic
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

High blood pressure is when the force of blood moving through the vessels is above recommended amounts (for example, greater than 120/80). The top number is called systolic pressure and the bottom diastolic pressure. The DASH diet is a great program to follow to help lower blood pressure. High blood pressure, left untreated, can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is a condition present when blood flows through the blood vessels with a force greater than normal. High blood pressure can strain the heart, damage blood vessels and increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, eye problems and kidney problems.

Blood pressure is the force of blood against the walls of your arteries as it circulates in your body. High blood pressure (hypertension) occurs when blood vessels become narrow or stiff, forcing your heart to pump harder to push blood through your body. When the force of the blood against your artery walls becomes too high, you are said to have high blood pressure or hypertension.

High blood pressure is another major risk factor for heart disease. It is a condition where the pressure of the blood in the arteries is too high. There are often no symptoms to signal high blood pressure. Lowering blood pressure by changes in lifestyle or by medication can lower the risk of heart disease and heart attack.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.