What is High Blood Pressure?

Blood Pressure (BP) is the force of blood pushing against blood vessel walls. High Blood Pressure (HBP) means the pressure in your arteries is higher than it should be. Another name for high blood pressure is hypertension.

Nearly half of Americans over age 20 have HBP, and many don’t even know because it often does not cause signs or symptoms. Since HBP increases the risk of heart attack and stroke, it is important to get your blood pressure checked regularly and manage it the way your doctor advises.

Risk factors of developing HBP Many risk factors can increase your chances of developing HBP, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Family history of HBP
  • High cholesterol
  • Obesity or excess weight
  • Physical inactivity
  • Race/ethnicity
  • Smoking
  • Unhealthy diet

Why is it important to maintain a normal blood pressure?

While there is no cure for HBP, prescription medications and lifestyle changes may help control your blood pressure, enhance your quality of life, and reduce the risk of developing heart disease. The diagram to the right shows potential problems caused by uncontrolled HBP.

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