High blood pressure, also called hypertension, affects about one in four adults in the U.S. When your heart beats, the amount of force on the walls of your blood vessel produces your blood pressure, which can be measured and monitored. High blood pressure causes the heart to work harder and can cause arteries to harden, as well as lead to heart failure.
High blood pressure is sometimes called the “silent killer.” It is estimated that about one third of people with high blood pressure do not know that they have the disease. Blood pressure can vary each time it is taken. Normal blood pressure is about 120/80 in adults. It is not one set of numbers, because it can change throughout the day depending on your physical activity or stress levels. A blood pressure reading greater than 120/80 is called pre-hypertension, and should be monitored by a doctor. There are several risk factors for high blood pressure, including:
• Advanced age
• Being overweight
• Limited exercise
• Diet high in salt
• Smoking tobacco
• Excessive alcohol
• Constant stress
• Genetics and your family history of the disease
High blood pressure is the number one risk factor for a stroke. It can also lead to heart attacks, heart failure, and kidney disease, but if you are aware of your high blood pressure it can be controlled. It is important to get medications that can control your hypertension and get plenty of regular exercise, stop smoking, eat healthy, and control your weight.
At each doctor appointment you should have an accurate blood pressure reading. People whose blood pressure is above the normal range should talk to their doctor about treatment, and get the proper equipment to monitor their blood pressure everyday. One can order blood pressure monitoring equipment online or choose one from any nearby pharmacy. There are a variety of methods available at your local Walgreens or CVS store. Pass by and check them out.