Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)

What is Hypertension?

Hypertension is the term used to describe high blood pressure.

Blood pressure is a measurement of the force against the walls of your arteries as your heart pumps blood through your body.

Blood pressure readings are usually given as two numbers — for example, 120 over 80 (written as 120/80 mmHg). One or both of these numbers can be too high.

The top number is called the systolic blood pressure, and the bottom number is called the diastolic blood pressure.

  • Normal blood pressure is when your blood pressure is lower than 120/80 mmHg most of the time.
  • High blood pressure (hypertension) is when your blood pressure is 140/90 mmHg or above most of the time.
  • If your blood pressure numbers are 120/80 or higher, but below 140/90, it is called pre-hypertension.

If you have pre-hypertension, you are more likely to develop high blood pressure.

If you have heart or kidney problems, or if you had a stroke, your doctor may want your blood pressure to be even lower than that of people who do not have these conditions.

Hypertension has been called the “silent killer” because it often causes no symptoms. Even though high blood pressure doesn’t have any symptoms, it can cause serious problems like damage to the heart and coronary arteries, stroke, kidney damage, vision loss, erectile dysfunction, memory loss, fluid in the lungs, angina, and peripheral artery disease.

It’s easy to get your blood pressure checked at your doctor’s office, a health clinic, a gym, or even at most pharmacies. Keep track of your blood pressure readings to make sure you stay in a safe range, and discuss any concerns with your doctor.




Content provided by the website for the National Library of Medicine (http://www.nlm.nih.gov) and the American Heart Association (www.heart.org).