High blood pressure, also referred to as hypertension, increases the risk of serious health problems, most notably heart attack and stroke. Blood pressure is determined by the amount of blood the heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow in a person’s arteries. The more blood a heart pumps and the narrower the arteries are, the higher the blood pressure is.
High blood pressure usually develops over many years, and most people experience it at some point in their lives. High blood pressure can be easily detected. And luckily, when a person knows that they have high blood pressure, there are simple measures to take to get it back under control.
Blood pressure is given in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg), and has two numbers. The first (upper) number measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats (systolic pressure). The second (lower) number measures the pressure in the arteries between beats (diastolic pressure).
In 2003, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute issued their most recent blood pressure guidelines. They are divided into four general categories:
Normal: Less than 120/80 mm Hg
Prehypertension: 120-139/80-89 mm Hg
Stage 1 high blood pressure: 140-159/90-99 mm Hg
Stage 2 high blood pressure: 160 and above/100 mm Hg (or higher)
Heart Disease - This well-known condition includes coronary heart disease, heart attacks, congestive heart failure, and congenital heart disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the U.S., but is largely preventable through lifestyle changes.
Stroke - When this potentially fatal event occurs, a blood clot blocks blood flow to the brain, which leads to brain cells dying, then brain damage. According to the National Stroke Association, Stroke is the third leading cause of death in America. Up to 80 percent of strokes are preventable.
Metabolic Syndrome - This is a group of conditions that occur together, which increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. The main features of metabolic syndrome include insulin resistance, hypertension (high blood pressure), and cholesterol abnormalities,