Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a serious condition that affects one in three American adults, and two-thirds of people. Hypertension is quite common.
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 defined as an average systolic blood pressure of 120 mm Hg and an average diastolic pressure of 80 mm Hg — often said as 120 over 80. Systolic pressure measures the pressure in arteries when your heartbeats. Diastolic pressure measures the pressure between beats. Someone has high blood pressure when the average systolic blood pressure is above 140 mm Hg, the diastolic blood pressure 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 you usually don’t have any symptoms when your blood pressure is too high. Hypertension, high cholesterol, and obesity are the biggest contributors to atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries.