High Blood Pressure
Nearly one in three adults in the United States has high blood pressure. Also called hypertension, high blood pressure increases your risk of coronary heart disease, which leads to a heart attack, and stroke. There are no symptoms associated with high blood pressure, and it is often called "the silent killer." Approximately one-third of people who have hypertension are unaware they have this dangerous condition. One of the major complications of high blood pressure is cardiovascular disease -- the number one cause of death in the United States.
Blood pressure is the force of blood moving through your blood vessels. Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). The top number in a reading is your systolic pressure, which represents the pressure when the heart beats or contracts. The bottom number is your diastolic pressure, which measures the pressure when your heart relaxes in between beats. The recommended systolic pressure is 120 mmHg or lower and the recommended diastolic pressure is 80 mmHg or lower.
An adult with systolic blood pressures between 120 and 139 or diastolic blood pressures between 80 and 90 is considered to be pre-hypertensive. If you have blood pressure greater than 140/90 mmHg, you have hypertension.
DID YOU KNOW?
Those who have a greater chance of developing high blood pressure include:
- People who have blood relatives who are hypertensive
- African Americans
- People over age 35
- People who are overweight
- People who are inactive
- Pregnant women
- People who consume too much salt and/or alcohol
- One in three U.S. adults has high blood pressure.
- More men than women have high blood pressure until the age of 45.
- Over age 65, women have a much higher percentage of high blood pressure than men.
- High blood pressure is much more common in women who are taking oral contraceptives than in women who are not taking them.
- Heart disease is the number one killer of women over 25. The death rate from heart disease is higher than the rate of all cancers combined.
- Cardiovascular disease kills over 480,000 women, about one every 35 seconds.
- Since 1984, the number of cardiovascular disease deaths for females has exceeded those for males.
- The prevalence of high blood pressure in African Americans in the United States is among the highest in the world and it is increasing.
- Prevalence in African Americans is greater than 40 percent, compared to Caucasians whose prevalence is less than 30 percent.
- Compared to Caucasians, African Americans develop high blood pressure at an earlier age and their average blood pressures are much higher.
- As a result, African Americans have a 1.3 times greater rate of nonfatal stroke, a 1.8 times greater rate of fatal stroke and a 1.5 times greater rate of heart disease death compared to Caucasians.
- High blood pressure is associated with shorter overall life expectancy.
- About 69 percent of people who have a first heart attack, 77 percent who have a first stroke and 74 percent with congestive heart failure have blood pressure higher than 140/90 mmHg.
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