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High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a serious condition that can affect many bodily systems. High blood pressure is often known as the silent killer because it has few symptoms. With a little knowledge, you can lessen your risk of high blood pressure and the associated effects on your cardiovascular system.
What Is High Blood Pressure?
When your heart pumps blood to bring oxygen to the body's cells, the blood pushes against the walls of the arteries. When that pushing or pressure against the arteries is strong and continuous, it can weaken the walls of the arteries and cause stroke, heart attack and kidney failure.
Measuring Your Blood Pressure
Hypertension has few symptoms and therefore can go undetected. You can measure your blood pressure with an at-home blood pressure monitor, use a pharmacy's free blood pressure monitor or you can go to your doctor's office.
What the Numbers Mean
Your blood pressure reading has two numbers: systolic over diastolic. The first and higher number measures the pressure when your heart is beating and pumping your blood and is more important in predicting whether a stroke or heart attack will occur. The diastolic number measures the pressure when your heart is between beats.
Normal Blood Pressure Level
Normal blood pressure is 120/80.
High Blood Pressure Levels
If the systolic pressure is between 120 and 139, or the diastolic is between 80 and 89, you have prehypertension. The numbers in this range used to be considered normal. Researchers coined the phrase вЂњprehypertensionвЂќ to use as a warning signal for patients to change their lifestyle to lessen the risk of developing high blood pressure. Blood pressure is considered dangerous when it reaches the hypertension stage. If your blood pressure is higher than 140/90, for either number, you have hypertension.
High levels of cholesterol can narrow the arteries and increase blood pressure. Diabetes and the associated peripheral artery disease can also obstruct the flow of blood.