High blood pressure makes the heart work harder. It increases the risk of developing heart disease, as well as kidney disease and stroke.
Also called hypertension, it usually has no symptoms. Once developed, it typically lasts a lifetime.
Blood pressure is recorded as two numbers – the systolic pressure (as the heart beats) over the diastolic pressure (as the heart relaxes). For example, a measurement would be written as 120/80 mm Hg (millimeters of mercury).
Normal blood pressure is less than 130 mm Hg systolic and less than 85 mm Hg diastolic. An optimal blood pressure is less than 120 mm Hg systolic and less than 80 mm Hg diastolic. A consistent blood pressure reading of 140/90 mm Hg or higher is considered high blood pressure. If the systolic and diastolic pressures fall into different categories, the higher category is used to classify blood pressure status.
To help prevent or control high blood pressure, you should: lose excess weight; become physically active; follow a heart healthy eating plan, including foods lower in salt and sodium; limit alcohol intake; and, if you are prescribed a medication, take it as directed.
The main types of high blood pressure medications are: diuretics, beta-blockers, angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin antagonists, calcium channel blockers, alpha blockers, alpha-beta blockers, nervous system inhibitors, and vasodilators. It?s important that you take medication as prescribed and control your blood pressure to below 140/90 mm Hg.