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Blood Pressure Fact Sheet

  High blood pressure (hypertension) usually reveals no symptoms and can impact people of all ages and backgrounds.  Everyone needs blood pressure to live, but high blood pressure can put you at risk of stroke, heart attack, heart failure, kidney failure, and blindness.  Taking the necessary steps to control your blood pressure can be a life-saving decision.  
What is blood pressure?

A blood pressure reading measures the force of blood as it presses against the walls of your arteries.  It's made up of two numbers that measure your heart pumping and resting.  Systolic blood pressure, the top number, measures the force while your heart pumps.  Diastolic blood pressure, the bottom number, measures the force between pumps.
  Systolic Diastolic Recommendation  
  Less than 120 Less than 80 Normal blood pressure.  Have blood pressure checked again in 2 years.  
  120 - 139 80 - 89 Pre-high blood pressure.  Have blood pressure checked again within a month.  
  Greater than 140 Greater than 90 High Blood Pressure.  Go to you physician for further treatment.  Have blood pressure checked at least three times in the next month.  
  Why is high blood pressure dangerous?
When blood pressure is too high, blood can not flow freely through your arteries and your heart has to pump harder than it should.  While your diastolic number stays about the same all the time, your systolic number changes frequently as your body responds to daily activities and stress.  Problems occur if your numbers remain elevated for an extended period of time.  These high numbers may lead to several serious health problems such as heart attack, stroke, heart failure, kidney failure, and blindness.
  What can I do to reduce my risk?  
  • Exercise regularly to avoid a sedentary lifestyle.
  • Watch your weight to avoid obesity.
  • Limit sodium to less than 3000 mg per day.
  • Limit total fat to less than 30% of calories.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Keep stress under control.
  • Limit alcohol consumption.
  • Avoid extra caffeine.
  • Take medication prescribed by your doctor.

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