The medical term for high blood pressure is hypertension. Hypertension (high blood pressure) occurs when blood pressure stays elevated over time. Your heart pumping blood through your arteries puts pressure (tension) on the artery walls.

Blood pressure is the force of blood against the walls of arteries. Blood pressure rises and falls during the day. When blood pressure stays elevated over time, it is called high blood pressure. High blood pressure is dangerous because it makes the heart work too hard and contributes to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). It increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, which are the first- and third-leading causes of death. The increased pressure of hypertension puts a strain on your circulatory system, which can ultimately lead to serious problems, such as congestive heart failure, stroke, heart disease, kidney failure and blindness.

Because hypertension usually does not cause symptoms until there is serious physical damage, it is often called the "silent killer." It is important to detect high blood pressure before it causes damage.

A blood pressure level of 140/90 mmHg or higher is considered high. About two-thirds of people over age 65 have high blood pressure. If your blood pressure is between 120/80 mmHg and 139/89 mmHg, then you have prehypertension. This means that you don't have high blood pressure now but are likely to develop it in the future. You can take steps to prevent high blood pressure by adopting a healthy lifestyle.

Those who do not have high blood pressure at age 55 face a 90 percent chance of developing it during their lifetimes. So high blood pressure is a condition that most people have at some point in their lives.

Both numbers in a blood pressure test are important, but for people who are 50 or older, systolic pressure gives the most accurate diagnosis of high blood pressure. Systolic pressure is the top number in a blood pressure reading. It is high if it is 140 mmHg or above.

Measuring Blood pressure
Blood pressure is measured by a quick and painless test using an inflatable cuff around the upper arm attached to a pressure gauge (sphygmomanometer). A stethoscope is used to listen to the sounds of blood pulsing through an artery. Blood pressure is recorded as two numbers measured in millimeters of mercury, for example; 120/80 mm Hg.

The top number is systolic pressure, the maximum pressure in the artery as the heart contracts.

· The bottom number is diastolic pressure, the lowest pressure in the artery when the heart is between contractions.
· Hypertension exists if the systolic pressure (top number) is 140 or higher or the diastolic pressure (bottom number) is 90 or higher. Optimal blood pressure is less than 120 systolic and less than 80 diastolic.

How to check if you have High blood pressure
Have your blood pressure checked regularly. Most doctors will diagnose a person with high blood pressure on the basis of two or more readings, taken on several occasions. A consistent blood pressure reading of 140/90 mmHg or higher is considered high blood pressure, another term for hypertension.

Some people experience high blood pressure only when they visit the doctor's office due to nervousness or overdue excitement visiting the doctor. This condition is called "white-coat hypertension." If your doctor suspects this, you may be asked to monitor your blood pressure at home or asked to wear a device called an ambulatory blood pressure monitor. This device is usually worn for 24 hours and can take blood pressure every 30 minutes.

High blood pressure is common. People may get it earlier in life but there is a tendency that people develop high blood pressure as they get older, but this is not a part of healthy aging. Others at risk for developing high blood pressure are the overweight, those with a family history of high blood pressure and those with pre-hypertension (120–139/80–89 mmHg).

Stress and anxiety can also lead to hypertension. Stress can make blood pressure go up for a while, and it has been thought to contribute to high blood pressure. But the long-term effects of stress are as yet unclear. Stress management techniques do not seem to prevent high blood pressure. However, such techniques may have other benefits, such as making you feel better or helping you to control over-eating.

High blood pressure might also be caused by another medical problem. Most of the time, the cause is not known.

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Hypertension Prevention - Tips to prevent hypertension

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