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 ...view middle of the document...
If left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to life-threatening medical problems such as stroke, heart attack or kidney failure.
High blood pressure is one of the most common causes of stroke because it puts unnecessary stress on blood vessel walls, causing them to thicken and deteriorate, which can eventually lead to a stroke. It can also speed up several common forms of heart disease.
When blood vessel walls thicken with increased blood pressure, cholesterol or other fat-like substances may break off of artery walls and block a brain artery. In other instances, the increased stress can weaken blood vessel walls, leading to a vessel breakage and a brain hemorrhage.
If a person has had a stroke, it is especially important to keep blood pressure controlled to reduce the risk of recurrent stroke.
What causes high blood pressure?
In most cases, it’s impossible to pinpoint an exact cause of high blood pressure. There are, however, a number of factors that have been linked to high blood pressure including:
•A family history of high blood pressure.
•Age: The incidence of high blood pressure rises in men after age 35 and in women after age 45.
•Gender: Men are more likely to have high blood pressure than women until age 45. From ages 45 to 64, men and women have similar risk. After that, women are more likely to have high blood pressure.
•Race: Approximately 41 percent of African Americans have high blood pressure, compared to 28 percent of Caucasians. Nearly half about 44% of African American women have high blood pressure. Hispanic Americans have a slightly higher risk for high blood pressure than Caucasians.
Other factors that can lead to high blood pressure include excess weight, excessive alcohol consumption, diabetes, lack of exercise and a high-salt diet.
How can high blood pressure be treated?
In most people, high blood pressure can be controlled through diet, exercise, medication or a combination of all three.
A diet that is low in salt and rich in vegetables, fruits and low-fat dairy products may help lower...