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High blood pressure often leads to heart disease and stroke.

Also known as hypertension, high blood pressure has no visible symptoms. Many people don’t know they have it until it affects their health in serious ways.

Man with high blood pressure holding with his daughter and grandson.

What

What is high blood pressure?

When your heart beats, it creates pressure that pushes blood through your blood vessels. High blood pressure increases the workload on the heart and blood vessels. It occurs when the force of blood pushing against your artery walls is consistently too high.

Risks

Causes of high blood pressure — know your risks:

High blood pressure might be hereditary, so you could inherit the risk of developing it from a relative. You may also be diagnosed with high blood pressure if you have diabetes. But high blood pressure can also be brought on by things you can control:

  • Smoking
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Eating fast foods or processed foods containing trans fats or saturated fats, foods with too much salt or sugar, and foods with not enough potassium
  • Weighing more than you should — being overweight or obese
  • Lack of exercise or remaining inactive

Understanding

Understanding your numbers.

  • Systolic pressure is the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart beats.
  • Diastolic pressure is the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart rests between beats.
  • So, if your measurement reads 120 systolic and 80 diastolic, you would say “120 over 80” or write “120/80 mm Hg.”

The following chart indicates the blood pressure range for normal people, those at risk, and those who have hypertension. If your health care provider finds your blood pressure is in the at-risk level, you have the beginning of Stage 1 hypertension and should work to lower your blood pressure by practicing healthier living habits.

Understanding your numbers.

Blood Pressure CategorySystolic mm Hg (upper number)ConjunctionDiastolic mm Hg (lower number)
NormalLess than 120andLess than 80
Elevated120-129andLess than 80
High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) Stage 1130-139or80-89
High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) Stage 2140 or higheror90 or higher
Hypertensive Crisis (Consult your health care provider immediately)Higher than 180and/orHigher than 120

Healthy Heart Program

A low-pressure approach to controlling high blood pressure

The Healthy Heart Ambassador Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring Program can help you manage and lower your high blood pressure. With FREE weekly classes on cooking, monitoring your blood pressure, and lifestyle changes, the four-month program will teach you ways to get healthier and stay that way.

Qualified applicants will receive a free welcome kit that includes a blood pressure monitor, measuring cup and spoon set, apron, tape measure keychain, and The New American Heart Association Cookbook.

Get healthy and live better.

Qualified applicants must:

  • Have a high blood pressure diagnosis
  • Be prescribed blood pressure medication