What’s blood pressure?
Blood pressure is the force of blood against the walls of arteries. It’s recorded as two numbers — systolic pressure (when the heart muscle contracts) over diastolic pressure (when the heart muscle rests between beats and refills with blood). Learn more about blood pressure readings or watch an animation of blood pressure.
What’s high blood pressure? High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is when blood running through your arteries flows with too much force and puts too much pressure on your arteries, stretching them past their healthy limit and causing small tears. Our body then kicks into an injury-healing mode to repair the tears with scar tissue. But the scar tissue traps substances that make up plaque and can lead to blockages, blood clots, and hardened, weakened arteries.
Several factors can increase your risk of high blood pressure, including family history, age, lack of physical activity, poor diet, gender-related risk patterns, obesity and drinking too much alcohol. Learn more about high blood pressure risk factors.
Why manage blood pressure?
Uncontrolled high blood pressure can injure or kill you. It’s called “the silent killer” because it has no symptoms. Many people don’t know they have it, so it's very important to get your blood pressure checked regularly.
Blockages and blood clots limit blood to vital organs, and without blood, the tissue dies. That’s why high blood pressure can lead to stroke, heart attack, kidney failure, and heart failure.
How do you reduce blood pressure?
High blood pressure can be checked, lowered and controlled. Whether your blood pressure is high or normal (normal is less than 120 mm Hg systolic AND less than 80 mm Hg diastolic or <120/80), you should: