Why is high blood pressure (hypertension) dangerous?

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is dangerous because it can lead to strokes, heart attacks, heart failure, or kidney disease. The goal of hypertension treatment is to lower harmful high pressures and protect important organs, such as the brain, heart, and kidneys. In studies, treatment for hypertension has been associated with reductions in stroke (reduced an average of 35 percent to 40 percent), heart attack (20 percent to 25 percent), and heart failure (more than 50 percent).

The Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure has classified "normal blood pressure" as less than 120/80 mmHg, "pre-hypertension" as 120-139/80-89 mmHg, and "hypertension" as greater than 140/90 mmHg. All patients with blood pressure readings greater than 120/80 should be encouraged to make lifestyle modifications. Treatment with medicine is recommended to lower blood pressure to less than 140/90 mmHg. For patients who have diabetes, or chronic kidney disease, the recommended blood pressure is less than 130/80 mmHg.

Treatment of hypertension involves lifestyle changes and drug therapy.