What is Blood Pressure?

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What is Blood Pressure? Blood pressure, also called hypertension, is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries. What is a blood pressure reading? Your blood pressure reading is expressed with two numbers — for example, 120/80. The first number, known as systolic blood pressure, is a measurement of the force your blood exerts on blood vessel walls as your heart pumps. The second number, known as diastolic blood pressure, is a measurement of the force that blood exerts on blood vessel walls when the heart is at rest between beats. What is high blood pressure? High blood pressure means the heart is pumping harder to move blood through the body. This can weaken blood vessels and damage major organs, such as the brain. Left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to stroke. Blood pressure, like a person's heart rate, will vary occasionally with exercise or stress. For people over age 18, an optimal blood pressure reading is considered 120/80 or lower. A blood pressure reading consistently higher than 120/80 is considered "pre-hypertension." High blood pressure or “stage one hypertension” is a measurement of 140/90 or higher. People who have high blood pressure have one and a half times the risk of having a stroke compared to those who consistently have optimal blood pressure of 120/80. Anyone who has had a previous heart attack, stroke, is diabetic, has kidney disease, high cholesterol or is overweight should speak with a doctor about aggressively controlling and lowering blood pressure. Maintaining a blood pressure reading below 140/90 may reduce the risk of further complications. Who has high blood pressure? As many as 73 million Americans have high blood pressure. Of the 1 in every 4 adults wi... ... middle of paper ... .... Factors to consider in the selection of antihypertensive drugs include cost, convenience, side effects and interaction with other drugs. Where can I get more information on high blood pressure? Speak with a doctor about how to control high blood pressure. The key to keeping blood pressure within the normal range is for a person to commit to being an active participant in their healthcare with a doctor. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health can also provide information about high blood pressure and its treatment. Visit their Web site at http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/. Back to Top | Printer Friendly Version Get Involved Stroke and You Stroke Survivors Caregivers and Families Healthcare Professionals Stay Informed » Sign In Email Address Zip Code
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