Blood pressure, also known as BP, is the force of blood on the walls of arteries as the heart bumps blood throughout the body. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, makes the heart work harder to pump blood and is dangerous as it contributes to the hardening of arteries which leads to heart disease, the first leading cause of death, and stroke, the third leading cause of death. High blood pressure can also cause heart failure and kidney disease. It is very common in America and about 65 million adults have high blood pressure. It is especially common in African Americans.
There are two numbers associated with blood pressure readings – systolic pressure is the top number, which measures the pressure in arteries when the heart beats and – diastolic pressure is the bottom number, which measures the pressure in arteries between heartbeats.
In order to understand blood pressure, you need to know the different categories associated of blood pressure, which are as follows:
Normal: When your BP is less than 120/80
Prehypertension: When your BP is 120-139/80-89
High Blood Pressure (Stage 1 Hypertension): When your BP is 140-159/90-99
High Blood Pressure (Stage 2 Hypertension): When your BP is 160 or higher/100 or higher
Hypertensive Crisis (Emergency Care Needed): Higher than 180/Higher than 110
Causes of high blood pressure are not known but certain factors may play a role in developing it, which includes:
Being overweight or obese
Lack of exercise
Excessive smoking and drinking
High sodium intake
Being over the age of 35
Chronic kidney disease
Family history of high blood pressure
Regular visits to your doctor, or purchasing your own blood pressure cuff and devices, can help you check if your blood pressure is normal or high. Normally after two readings of high blood pressure, doctors would diagnose you and start your treatment program. It is crucial to change your lifestyle and take prescription medication. Even if your blood pressure is normal, you should make lifestyle changes to prevent a future case of high blood pressure.
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