What is high blood pressure?

Blood pressure is the measurement of the pressure or force of blood pushing against blood vessel walls. In hypertension (high blood pressure), the pressure against the blood vessel walls is consistently too high. High blood pressure is often called the “silent killer” because you may not be aware that anything is wrong, but the damage is occurring within your body.

The only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to have your blood pressure taken. It is best to know your numbers and make the changes that can help prevent or limit damage.

Who is more likely to have high blood pressure?

  • People with family members who have high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, or diabetes.
  • African-Americans.
  • Women who are pregnant.
  • Women who take birth control pills.
  • People over 35.
  • People who are overweight.
  • People who are not active.
  • People who drink a lot of alcohol.
  • People who eat too many fatty foods or foods with too much salt.
  • People who smoke.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/21/2019.


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