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Health Information for the Public

Carlos Learns Important Facts About Blood Pressure

What is blood pressure?

Blood pressure is the force of blood against the walls of your arteries. Blood pressure is necessary to move the blood through your body so it can get to all the body's organs.

Why is high blood pressure dangerous?

High blood pressure—also called hypertension—puts you at risk for heart disease. When your circulatory systemblood pressure is high, your heart has to work harder. High blood pressure is known as the "silent killer" because it often has no symptoms. If not treated, high blood pressure raises your chances of:

  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Kidney problems
  • Eye problems
  • Death

The good news

You can take action to prevent high blood pressure. If your blood pressure is high, you can do something to control it.

What do your blood pressure numbers mean?

  • A normal blood pressure is below 120/80. Good for you! Check your blood pressure once a year.
  • If your numbers are 120/80 to 139/89, you have prehypertension. You are more likely to end up with high blood pressure. Take action to prevent it.
  • Your blood pressure is high if it is 140/90 or above. Ask your doctor how to lower it. Check your blood pressure often if your blood pressure is high.

Carlos says: "Getting my blood pressure checked was easy and did not hurt. The numbers were my only warning that I am at risk for getting high blood pressure."

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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
Public Health Service
National Institutes of Health
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
NIH Publication No. 08-6352
June 2008

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