Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the inside of your arteries when your heart beats and is resting. High blood pressure (hypertension) is when this pressure is consistently too high. Uncontrolled hypertension can eventually damage your arteries, leading to potentially life-threatening health problems.
Checking your blood pressure is the only way to know if you have hypertension (high blood pressure). Blood pressure is typically measured with an upper-arm inflatable blood pressure cuff. There are two numbers in your blood pressure measurement:
- Systolic (top number) – This number measures how much pressure your blood exerts against the walls of your arteries during each heartbeat.
- Diastolic (bottom number) – This number measures how much pressure your blood exerts against the walls of your arteries while your heart rests between beats.
Hypertension is a common problem affecting people of all ages—even children. Nearly one out of two adults in the United States has hypertension.1
Complications of hypertension
In 2020, more than 670,000 deaths in the United States had hypertension as a primary or contributing cause.2 It is very important to get your blood pressure checked regularly and to take steps to prevent or treat hypertension because uncontrolled hypertension can put you at risk for the following serious conditions:
- Cardiovascular disease, including heart attack, heart failure, and stroke
- Circulation problems in your legs
- Kidney disease
- Eye disease
The good news is that you can take several steps to prevent or treat hypertension, including:
- Making lifestyle changes such as eating a low-salt diet, increasing physical activity, and quitting smoking
- Taking medications to lower your blood pressure
Are you at risk?
Learn more about your risk and how to reduce your risk factors.