What Is High Blood Pressure?
Your heart is the strongest muscle in your body, pushing blood through your vessels by squeezing and relaxing. This process creates a force called blood pressure.
How is blood pressure measured?
Two numbers are used to measure blood pressure. The first (systolic) number is the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart beats. The second (diastolic) number is the pressure in your vessels when your heart rests between beats. For example, if the measurement reads 118 systolic and 79 diastolic, your provider might say “118 over 79” or write “118/79 mmHg” on your chart. Blood pressured is usually measured with a small gauge attached to an inflatable cuff. If your blood pressure reading is between 120-139 mmHG over 80-89 mmHg, you are at risk for hypertension.
What is high blood pressure?
Blood pressure normally rises and falls through the day. When your blood pressure is high, your heart has to work harder. When your heart works hard over a long period of time, it can lead to a number of health and heart conditions. High blood pressure is also known as hypertension.
Risk factors for high blood pressure
- Age – risk increases as you get older
- Gender – men are at greater risk than women
- Family history or genetics
- Diabetes – high sugar levels in the blood can lead to damaged arteries and cause high blood pressure
- Lack of exercise – limits the strength of the heart muscle.
- Sodium – foods high in salt can restrict blood vessels, creating higher pressure
- Weight – Being overweight causes the heart to work harder and increases blood pressure
What can you do to manage your blood pressure?
- Follow your doctor’s instructions for taking any pills
- Manage stress
- Limit alcohol use
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Follow a physical activity plan
- Don’t smoke. Quit if you do
Work with your doctor to create a health plan that is right for you. Consider your schedule, lifestyle, culture and family restrictions. Read more facts about high blood pressure or hypertension.