When your heart pumps blood throughout your body, the force of the blood against the walls of your arteries is called blood pressure.  High blood pressure, or hypertension, is dangerous because that means more strain is being placed on your arteries and the heart.

The only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to have it measured.  Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg) and is written as one number “over” another number.

The top numbers is the systolic blood pressure, the highest level your blood reaches (while your heart is beating).  The bottom number is your diastolic blood pressure, the lowest level your blood pressure reaches (while your heart relaxes between beats).

A blood pressure reading of 120/80 or below is considered normal.  Readings above these numbers fall into the categories of prehypertension, stage 1 hypertension and stage 2 hypertension.

Several factors can lead to hypertension, including age, family history, stress and being overweight.

High blood pressure can be lowered by lifestyle changes and medication.  Your health care provider will be able to discuss treatment options.

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