When the heart pumps blood into the arteries, the blood flows with a force pushing against the walls of the arteries. Blood pressure is the product of the flow of blood times the resistance in the blood vessels. High blood pressure is also called hypertension. What makes high blood pressure important is that initially it may cause no symptoms but can still cause serious long-term complications.
Many people have high blood pressure and don't even know it.
The key complications of high blood pressure include heart disease, heart attack, congestive heart failure, stroke, kidney failure, peripheral artery disease, and aortic aneurysms (outpouchings of the aorta). (Geleijnse 235)
Public awareness of these dangers has increased. High blood pressure has become the second most common reason for medical office visits in the United States.
Blood pressure is measured with a blood pressure cuff and recorded as two numbers, such as 120/80 mm Hg (millimeters of mercury).
The top, larger number is called the systolic pressure. This is the pressure generated when the heart contracts (pumps). It reflects the pressure of the blood against arterial walls.
The bottom, smaller number is called the diastolic pressure. This reflects the pressure in the arteries while the heart is filling and resting between heartbeats.
Scientists have determined a normal range for both systolic and diastolic blood pressure after examining the blood pressure of many people.
Those whose blood pressure is consistently higher than this norm are said to have high blood pressure or hypertension.
High blood pressure in adults is defined as a consistently elevated blood pressure of 140 mm Hg systolic and 90 mm Hg diastolic or higher.
As many as 60 million Americans have high blood pressure.
That's about one in four adults aged 18 years and older.
Uncontrolled high blood pressure is indirectly responsible for many deaths and disability resulting from heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure. (Bulpitt 1947)
According to research studies, the risk of dying of a heart attack is directly linked to blood pressure, especially systolic hypertension. The higher your blood pressure, the higher your risk, even with blood pressure in the normal range.
However, the progress of heart disease caused by high blood pressure can be slowed down.
Blood pressure is the force in the arteries when the heart beats (systolic pressure) and when the heart is at rest (diastolic pressure). It's measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). High blood pressure (or hypertension) is defined in an adult as a blood pressure greater than or equal to 140 mm Hg systolic pressure or greater than or equal to 90 mm Hg diastolic pressure.
High blood pressure directly increases the risk of coronary heart disease (which leads to heart attack) and stroke, especially when it's present with other risk factors.
High blood pressure can occur in children or adults, but it's more common among people over age 35. It's particularly prevalent in African Americans, middle-aged and elderly people, obese people, heavy drinkers and women taking birth control pills. It may run in families, but many people with a strong family history of high blood ...