High blood pressure

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a serious condition that affects about one in three American adults, and two-thirds of people over age 65. Blood pressure is the force of blood as it pumps through your arteries. The more blood your heart pumps and the narrower your arteries are, the higher the blood pressure.

Normal blood pressure is an average systolic blood pressure of less than 120 mm Hg and an average diastolic pressure of less than 80 mm Hg, "120 over 80." The top number measures the pressure in arteries when your heart beats. The bottom number measures the pressure between beats. Someone has high blood pressure when the average top number is above 140 mm Hg, the bottom number is above 90 mm Hg, or both.

High blood pressure raises the risk of heart disease and stroke, the leading causes of death among Americans. It is called the "silent killer" because most people dont have any symptoms when blood pressure is too high. Hypertension, high cholesterol, and obesity are the biggest reasons people get atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.

Most people can control their high blood pressure and reduce their risk of heart disease. Talk to your doctor about how to lower your high blood pressure. In some cases, making changes in your diet and exercising can get blood pressure under control. In other cases, you may need medications.

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Review Date: 3/23/2015  

Reviewed By: Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD, Solutions Acupuncture, a private practice specializing in complementary and alternative medicine, Phoenix, AZ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

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