Home > Educational Facts of High Blood Pressure

Prepared by: Alicia C. Omaña, PhD, MPH

Note: This informtion is solely for educational purposes, it is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any diseases.
Source: 1
CDC: Deaths: Final Data for 2009. www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr60/nvsr60_03.pdf
2 CDC: Vital signs: awareness and treatment of uncontrolled hypertension among adults—United States, 2003–2010.www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6135a3.htmNational

What is high blood pressure?

Blood pressure is the force of blood against your artery walls as it circulates through your body. Blood pressure normally rises and falls throughout the day, but it can cause health problems if it stays high for a long time. High blood pressure can lead to heart disease and stroke—leading causes of death in the United States. 1

Are you at risk?

One in three American adults has high blood pressure—that’s an estimated 67 million people. 2 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).

What blood pressure levels are healthy?
To determine whether your blood pressure is normal, your doctor examines your systolic and diastolic pressures, which the gauge measures in millimeters of mercury (abbreviated as mmHg).
Blood Pressure Levels


systolic: less than 120 mmHg

diastolic: less than 80 mmHg

At risk (prehypertension)

systolic: 120–139 mmHg

diastolic: 80–89 mmHg


systolic: 140 mmHg or higher

diastolic: 90 mmHg or higher

Can high blood pressure be prevented?

You can take several steps to maintain normal blood pressure levels:
· Get your blood pressure checked regularly.
· Eat a healthy diet.
· Maintain a healthy weight. l
· Be physically active.
· Limit alcohol use.
· Prevent or manage diabetes.