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High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) Signs, Causes, Diet, and Treatment

What is high blood pressure? What is normal blood pressure?

  • High blood pressure (hypertension) is defined as high pressure (tension) in the arteries, which are the vessels that carry blood from the heart to the rest of the body.
  • Blood pressure readings are given as two numbers:
    • The systolic blood pressure (the top number) equals the pressure in the arteries as the heart contracts.
    • The diastolic pressure (the bottom number) is the pressure in the arteries as the heart relaxes.
  • Normal blood pressure is below 120/80.
  • In 2017, the American College of Cardiology released new guidelines for high blood pressure.
    • Blood pressure between 120/80 and 129/80 is elevated blood pressure, and a blood pressure of 130/80 or above is considered high.
  • The American Academy of Cardiology defines blood pressure ranges as:
    • Hypertension stage 1 is 130-139 or 80-89 mm Hg, and hypertension stage 2 is 140 or higher, or 90 mm Hg or higher.
  • Complications of high blood pressure include heart disease, kidney (renal) disease, hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis or arteriosclerosis), eye damage, and stroke (brain damage).
  • Hypertension is a major public health problem. With the new guidelines for defining high blood presure, The American Heart Association estimates high blood pressure affects nearly half of all adults (46%) in the United States.
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Reviewed on 12/7/2017

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