of Americans have high blood pressure, but many don’t know about it.
Maintaining a healthy blood pressure is important to a healthy lifestyle, and a consistently high
blood pressure can lead to serious or potentially fatal health complications.
Read more to learn what is high blood pressure, what are the threats, what are
the causes, who’s at risk, and what you can do to lower your blood pressure.
High Blood Pressure?
pressure, or hypertension, is when the force of the blood moving through your
vessels is consistently too high. Blood pressure is measured in two numbers: a
‘systolic’ number – or upper number – and a ‘diastolic’ number – or lower
number. The AHA puts blood pressure ranges into five categories:
- A normal blood pressure is any reading consistently below 120/80 mm Hg.
- An elevated blood pressure is when your upper number ranges from 120-129.
- An individual has stage one high blood pressure when their numbers are 130-139/80-89 mm Hg.
- An individual has stage two high blood pressure when their numbers are higher than 140/90 mm Hg.
- A blood pressure reading of more than 180/120 mm Hg is considered a hypertensive crisis.
Are the Threats of High Blood Pressure?
dangerous health threats affecting different parts of your body over time. If untreated, threats that can
come as a result of high blood pressure include a heart attack, stroke, heart
disease or failure, vision loss, and kidney disease or failure.
In many cases high blood pressure does not bring with it many obvious symptoms,
so it’s important to regularly monitor your blood pressure and seek treatment
if your numbers are consistently above the threshold.
Contributes to High Blood Pressure?
pressure, some of which are modifiable, like your diet, and some of which are
out of your control, like your age. A few of these factors are:
Diet: An unhealthy diet – specifically one
that includes a high level of saturated and trans fats and salt – can cause
health problems, including high blood pressure. Consuming too much alcohol can
also lead your blood pressure to spike beyond healthy levels.
Physical Activity: A lack of regular physical
activity can be bad news for your heart and circulatory system, including your
blood pressure. Inactivity increases your odds of heart attack and stroke.
Being Overweight: Being overweight can put
extra strain on your heart, leading to high blood pressure.
Smoking and Tobacco Use: Smokers and
individuals who use tobacco products are at an increased risk of high blood
pressure and other heart-related issues.
Age: Older individuals stand a higher risk of
hypertension than younger individuals. Fact: Below the age of 65, men have a
higher risk of high blood pressure than women, but above the age of 65, women
are more at risk.
history can all impact your blood pressure.
you age, your blood vessels become less elastic and so blood pressure naturally
to have a higher risk of high blood pressure in America
than any other race.
pressure or chronic kidney disease in their family are at a higher risk of
developing high blood pressure.
Steps Can You Take?
One of the most important things you can do to
maintain a healthy blood pressure is to regularly monitor it so that you’re
aware of what’s normal for you. If you’re finding your blood pressure is
consistently elevated or high, you should contact your doctor to develop a plan
to lower it.
Improve your diet by eating less
saturated and trans fats and sodium. Incorporate more fruits, vegetables, and
whole grains into your diet, and try to limit salty foods and red meat.
Stay active! By regularly
exercising and keeping active,
you can improve your heart health and decrease your odds of heart attack or
If you are a smoker, quitting can
pay positive dividends to your heart and the other systems involved in
regulating your blood pressure.
Try to find healthy ways to manage stress.
of your control, healthy lifestyle changes might not be enough to lower your
blood pressure. Consult with your doctor and consider medication to lower your
blood pressure if necessary.
American Heart Association? Read here about our employees advocating for heart