What is high blood pressure?

Blood pressure is the measurement of the pressure or force of blood pushing against blood vessel walls. The heart pumps blood into the arteries (blood vessels), which carry the blood throughout the body. High blood pressure, also called hypertension, means the pressure in your arteries is above the normal range.

You usually cannot feel high blood pressure. Many people who have high blood pressure don't know they have it. In most cases, no one knows what causes it. People who have high blood pressure that is not treated are at greater risk for stroke, enlarged heart, heart failure, peripheral vascular disease, heart attack, and kidney disease/failure.

What is central blood pressure?

Central blood pressure is the pressure in the aorta, the artery that sends blood from the heart throughout the body. Experts believe that central blood pressure is more accurate and useful than peripheral blood pressure, because central blood pressure measurement does a better job of predicting if the person will have heart disease or stroke.

Why is central blood pressure important?

As a person ages, his or her blood vessels lose some flexibility and become stiffer, which makes it harder for the heart to pump. This is known as arterial stiffness. Measuring the central blood pressure can give the doctor an accurate picture of the degree of arterial stiffness, as well as the likelihood that the person will have a heart attack or stroke.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/10/2016.


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  • Agabiti-Rosei E, Mancia G, O’Rourke M, et al. Central blood pressure measurements and antihypertensive therapy: A consensus document. Hypertension. 2007;50:154-160.
  • American College of Cardiology. Blood Pressure Measurement: Is it time to leave the Korotkoff method behind? Accessed 12/4/2016.

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