High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a common condition that occurs when your blood pressure-the force of the blood on the walls of your arteries-is often too high. Medical Animation Copyright © 2022 Nucleus Medical Media, All rights reserved.
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a common disease that develops when blood flows through your arteries at higher-than-normal pressures. Your blood pressure is made up of two numbers: systolic and diastolic. Systolic pressure is the pressure when the ventricles pump blood out of the heart. Diastolic pressure is the pressure between heartbeats when the heart is filling with blood.
Your blood pressure changes throughout the day based on your activities. For most adults, a normal blood pressure is less than 120 over 80 millimeters of mercury, which is written as your systolic pressure reading over your diastolic pressure reading- mm Hg. Your blood pressure is considered high when you have consistent systolic readings of 130 mm Hg or higher or diastolic readings of 80 mm Hg or higher.
Blood Pressure Levels
You usually don’t have symptoms from high blood pressure until it has caused serious health problems. About tsdates 1 in 3 U.S. adults with high blood pressure aren’t even aware they have it and are not being treated to control their blood pressure. In fact, that is why it is important to have your blood pressure checked at least once a year.
To control or lower high blood pressure, your doctor may recommend that you adopt a heart-healthy lifestyle . This includes choosing heart-healthy foods such as those in the DASH eating plan. You may also need to take medicines. Controlling or lowering blood pressure can help prevent or delay serious health problems such as chronic kidney disease, heart attack, heart failure, stroke, and possibly vascular dementia.
Explore this Health Topic to learn more about high blood pressure, our role in research and clinical trials to improve health, and where to find more information. During High Blood Pressure Education Month in May and throughout the year, the NHLBI features research findings that help advance our understanding of high blood pressure, educational materials and social media resources to share, and tips for managing your condition. Find research studies and get resources on high blood pressure.
Risk Factors – High Blood Pressure
Many factors raise your risk of high blood pressure. Some risk factors, such as unhealthy lifestyle habits, can be changed. A healthy lifestyle can lower your risk for developing high blood pressure.
Blood pressure tends to increase with age. Our blood vessels naturally thicken and stiffen over time. These changes increase the risk for high blood pressure.
However, the risk of high blood pressure is increasing for children and teens, possibly because of rise in the number of children and teens who are living with overweight or obesity.
Family history and genetics
High blood pressure often runs in families. Much of the understanding of the body systems involved in high blood pressure has come from genetic studies. Many different genes are linked to a small increase in the risk of developing high blood pressure. Research suggests that certain DNA changes as an unborn baby grows in the womb may also lead to high blood pressure later in life.
- Eating unhealthy foods often, especially those with too much sodium and not enough potassium. Some people, including African Americans, older adults, and people who have chronic kidney disease, diabetes, or metabolic syndrome, are more sensitive to salt in their diet.