Blood pressure is a measure of how hard blood pushes against the walls of the arteries (blood vessels). Over time, high blood pressure, known as hypertension, begins to damage the blood vessels, heart, and kidneys. This can lead to heart attack, stroke, and other serious health problems. High blood pressure is often called a 'silent killer' because there are no signs or symptoms.
Blood pressure is measured with two numbers:
- Systolic (top number) - shows how hard blood pushes when the heart is pumping.
- Diastolic (bottom number) - shows how hard blood pushes between heartbeats.
An ideal blood pressure is less than 120/80. High blood pressure is 140/90 or higher. Many people fall into the 'at risk' category called prehypertension. These people need to make lifestyle changes to prevent or delay the development of high blood pressure.