Blood pressure is how hard your blood pushes against the walls of your arteries when your heart pumps blood. Arteries are the tubes that carry blood away from your heart. Every time your heart beats, it pumps blood through your arteries to the rest of your body.
Hypertension (high blood pressure) is when the pressure in your blood vessels is too high (140/90 mmHg or higher). It is common but can be serious if not treated.High blood pressure has no signs or symptoms. The only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to get tested.
By taking steps to lower your blood pressure, you can reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure. Lowering your blood pressure can help you live a longer, healthier life.
If you are age 40 or older, or if you are at higher risk for high blood pressure, get your blood pressure checked once a year.
If you are age 18 to 40 and you aren’t at higher risk for high blood pressure, get a Blood Pressure Screening every 3 to 5 years.
Things that increase the risk of having high blood pressure include:
Lifestyle changes like eating a healthier diet, quitting tobacco and being more active can help lower blood pressure. Some people may still need to take medicines.
A blood pressure test measures how hard your heart is working to pump blood through your body.
Blood pressure is measured with 2 numbers. The first number is the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats. The second number is the pressure in your arteries between each beat when your heart relaxes.
Compare your blood pressure to these numbers:
People with very high blood pressure (usually 180/120 or higher) can experience symptoms including:
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and a high blood pressure, seek care immediately.
To test your blood pressure, a nurse or doctor will put a cuff around your upper arm. The cuff will be pumped with air until it feels tight, then the air will be slowly let out. This won’t take more than a few minutes. The nurse or doctor can tell you what your blood pressure numbers are right after the test is over. If the test shows that your blood pressure is high, ask the doctor what to do next. Blood pressure can go up and down, so you may need to get it checked it more than once.
Yes – you can check your own blood pressure with a blood pressure machine. You can find blood pressure machines in shopping malls, pharmacies, and grocery stores. If the test shows that your blood pressure is high, talk to a doctor.
High blood pressure can be dangerous for a pregnant woman and her unborn baby. If you have high blood pressure and you want to get pregnant, it’s important to take steps to lower your blood pressure first. Sometimes, women get high blood pressure for the first time during pregnancy. This is called gestational (“jes-TAY-shon-al”) hypertension. Usually, this type of high blood pressure goes away after the baby is born. If you have high blood pressure while you are pregnant, be sure to visit your doctor regularly.
There are certain risk factors that can be changed which can include unhealthy diets (excessive salt consumption, a diet high in saturated fat and trans fats, low intake of fruits and vegetables), physical inactivity, consumption of tobacco and alcohol, and being overweight or obese.
However other risk factors can’t be modified including a family history of hypertension, age over 65 years and co-existing diseases such as diabetes or kidney disease.
If you have high blood pressure, your doctor may recommend one or more medicines. Your recommended blood pressure goal may depend on what other health conditions you have.
If you have one of the following aim to reduce your blood pressure to less than 130/80:
For most people, the goal is to have a blood pressure less than 140/90.
If you have high blood pressure, you may need medicine to control your blood pressure.
Take these steps to lower your blood pressure:
Small changes can add up. For example, losing just 10 pounds can help lower your blood pressure.
There are several common blood pressure medicines:
Ask a doctor or nurse to check your blood pressure at your next visit. You can also find blood pressure machines at many shopping malls, pharmacies, and grocery stores. Most of these machines are free to use.
Blood pressure screening is covered under the Affordable Care Act, the health care reform law passed in 2010. Depending on your insurance, you may be able to get your blood pressure checked by a doctor or nurse at no cost to you.
Check with your insurance provider to find out what’s included in your plan. Visit HealthCare.gov for information about other services covered under the Affordable Care Act.
Immunization vaccines for adults — doses, recommended ages, and recommended populations vary: