Blood pressure is the force (pressure) that the blood exerts inside the arteries (blood vessel walls). A certain amount of pressure is required to keep the blood flowing throughout the body. When you run or walk fast the heart will beat faster and the blood pressure will rise. This is normal and is good training for your heart.
However if your blood pressure is always high, then the lining of the blood vessels can be damaged. If you smoke or have high cholesterol, the damage to blood vessels may be increased. When the blood pressure is high, the heart has to work much harder to pump the blood around the body.
Are you at risk?
One in three American adults has high blood pressure, that’s an estimated 67 million people. Anyone, including children, can develop it. Several factors that are beyond your control can increase your risk for high blood pressure. These include your age, sex, and race or ethnicity. But you can work to reduce your risk by eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, and being physically active.
What are the signs and symptoms?
High blood pressure usually has no warning signs or symptoms, so many people don’t realize they have it. That’s why it’s important to visit your doctor regularly. Be sure to talk with your doctor about having your blood pressure checked.
How is high blood pressure diagnosed?
Your doctor measures your blood pressure by wrapping an inflatable cuff with a pressure gauge around your arm to squeeze the blood vessels. Then he or she listens to your pulse with a stethoscope while releasing air from the cuff. The gauge measures the pressure in the blood vessels when the heart beats (systolic) and when it rests (diastolic).
Can high blood pressure be prevented?
Get your blood pressure checked regularly. Eat a healthy diet. Maintain a healthy weight Be physically active. Limit alcohol use Don’t smoke Prevent or manage diabetes.