Blood pressure is a measurement of the force against the walls of arteries as your heart pumps blood through your body. Hypertension is another term used to describe high blood pressure. Blood pressure readings are given as two numbers. The top number is called the systolic blood pressure. The bottom number is called the diastolic blood pressure. For example, 120 over 80 (written as 120/80 mmHg). One or both of these numbers can be too high.
- Normal blood pressure is when the blood pressure is lower than 120/80 mmHg most of the time.
- High blood pressure (hypertension) is when the blood pressure is 140/90 mmHg or above most of the time.
- If the blood pressure numbers are 120/80 or higher, but below 140/90, it is called pre-hypertension.
One of the most dangerous aspects of hypertension is that you may not know that you have it. In fact, nearly one-third of people who have high blood pressure don’t know it. The only way to know if your blood pressure is high is through regular checkups. This is especially important if you have a close relative who has high blood pressure. If your blood pressure is extremely high, there may be certain symptoms to look out for, including:
- Severe headache
- Fatigue or confusion
- Vision problems
- Chest pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Irregular heartbeat
- Blood in the urine
- Pounding in your chest, neck, or ears
There are several risk factors for high blood pressure.