High Blood Pressure Facts
Nearly one-third of all American adults have high blood pressure. High blood pressure is when your blood pressure is higher than normal for an extended period of time. Most people with high blood pressure do not know they have the condition until it is discovered by a doctor.
The prevalence of high blood pressure increases with age, with 65% of men and 75% of women having high blood pressure after the age of 64.
People over the age of 55 with normal blood pressure have a 90% risk of developing hypertension in their lifetime.
When you have high blood pressure, your heart is working harder than normal to pump blood through your body. This is something you can’t feel. In fact, high blood pressure is commonly called a “silent killer” because it usually has no noticeable symptoms. Despite the lack of symptoms, untreated high blood pressure can lead to a greater risk for stroke or heart attack. That is why frequent blood pressure monitoring is vital.
If you have recently been diagnosed with high blood pressure, you should take it seriously. There are positive steps you can take, including making lifestyle changes and taking medicine to help. Your doctor may also recommend that you monitor your blood pressure regularly.
Managing your high blood pressure should be part of an overall heart health program that also includes managing or preventing health problems like diabetes or high cholesterol, preventing blood clots, making dietary changes, such as limiting salt, and lifestyle changes that include quitting smoking and increasing daily exercise. In addition to those efforts, some find that they need medication to reduce their blood pressure.
The Stages of High Blood Pressure
mm Hg (top number)
mm Hg (bottom number)
(Hypertension) Stage I
(Hypertension) Stage II
During a regular physical exam, a doctor uses a sphygmomanometer (blood pressure cuff) to check blood pressure. This common device should be familiar to you: it consists of a cuff that fastens around the upper arm and is attached to a bulb. The doctor inflates the cuff by squeezing the bulb. The doctor then releases the air from the cuff and listens with a stethoscope for the sound of blood passing through blood vessels. The pressure at which the sound is first heard is called bystolic blood pressure. The pressure at which the doctor can no longer hear the sound is called diastolic blood pressure.