Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention
    Blood Pressure
 Frequently Asked Questions

What is High Blood Pressure?

Every time the heart beats, it pushes blood through the arteries, to the rest of the body. The force of the blood against the walls of the arteries is called blood pressure.

High Blood Pressure is caused when blood vessels become less flexible or narrowed. When this happens the heart has to pump harder to get the blood to go through the vessels. This creates an increase in pressure in the vessels called High Blood Pressure or Hypertension.

What Causes High Blood Pressure?

In most cases, there is no known cause for high blood pressure. However, in some cases excitement, activity, medications, stress (physical or emotional), certain medical conditions, excessive salt and/or alcohol intake among others can affect a blood pressure reading.

How Can I Tell if I Have It?

Someone who has high blood pressure may feel fine but be at greater risk for many serious health conditions. Often referred to as the “silent killer”, high blood pressure normally has no initial symptoms and no early warning signs. That is what makes it so dangerous. The only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to have it measured by a health care provider. You should have it checked once a year or more often as recommended by your provider.

What Happens If I Don't Treat My High Blood Pressure?

If high blood pressure is undetected or untreated, it causes or contributes to a number of health conditions such as:

  • Heart Disease
  • Heart Attack
  • Stroke
  • Kidney Damage
  • Impaired Vision or Blindness
Early detection and treatment has been shown to reduce the complications of High Blood Pressure

How is My Blood Pressure Measured?

Blood Pressure is measured by wrapping a cuff around the upper arm, and inflating it tightly to stop the flow of blood in the arm. As air is released from the cuff, the health care provider listens through a stethescope for 2 measurements. The 1st number (systolic pressure) is the amount of force recorded when the heart beats. The 2nd number (diastolic pressure) is the amount of force recorded when the heart is at rest between beats. Both blood pressure readings are important. They are always taken and recorded together: A measurement of 126/86 ("126 over 86").

How Can I reduce My Blood Pressure?

You can reduce your High Blood Pressure or prevent your blood pressure from increasing by reducing your sodium (salt) intake, being active and maintaining a healthy weight. Most adults should have less than one teaspoon, or 1,500 milligrams of sodium a day. Depending on your age, race, family history, lifestyle and other factors, your healthcare provider may also prescribe medication to help control your blood pressure.

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