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 Blood Pressure and Heart Disease

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High blood pressure (also called hypertension), directly increases your risk of heart disease and stroke.

What Is Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against artery walls. Blood pressure results from two forces: one is created by the heart as it pumps blood into the arteries, and the other is the force of the arteries as they resist the blood flow.

Two numbers are recorded when measuring blood pressure. The top number, or systolic pressure, refers to the pressure inside the artery when the heart contracts and pumps blood through the body. The bottom number, or diastolic pressure, refers to the pressure inside the artery when the heart is at rest and filling with blood.

What Is a Healthy Blood Pressure Level?

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) guidelines define normal blood pressure as less than 120/80.

A single elevated blood pressure measurement is not necessarily an indication of a problem. Your physician will want to see multiple blood pressure measurements over several days or weeks before making a diagnosis of hypertension (high blood pressure) and initiating treatment.

How to Control Your Blood Pressure

You can control high blood pressure by:

Some people must take daily medication to control hypertension. If you have hypertension, you should routinely have your blood pressure checked and be under the care of a physician.