Aging & Health A to Z
High Blood Pressure
Basic Facts & Information
What is High Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure (also known as hypertension) is sometimes called the “silent killer” because it produces few, if any, symptoms. In fact, you might not even realize you’ve got high blood pressure. But untreated, this condition can lead to heart attacks, strokes, kidney disease, eye disease, and other serious problems.
High blood pressure goes hand-in-hand with the aging process, because blood vessels naturally stiffen as you age. As that happens, the amount of force required to pump blood through your arteries increases and puts more pressure against artery walls, which can weaken and damage them.
Fortunately, high blood pressure is easy to detect and, in most cases, easy to control. And that’s why it’s so critical to monitor your blood pressure regularly.
- Over half of people aged 60 and older have some degree of high blood pressure.
- Black Americans have a higher incidence of hypertension than any other racial/ethnic group in the United States.
Your Blood Pressure Measurement
Blood pressure is measured in two numbers, for example: 120 over 80 (written 120/80 mm Hg).
Stages of Hypertension
- In pre-hypertension, blood pressure is 120 to 139 over 80 to 89.
- As hypertension progresses, the blood pressure goes up to about 140 to 159 over 90 to 99.
- In advanced hypertension, the systolic pressure can be 160 or higher, and the diastolic pressure can be 100 or more.
Updated: March 2012
Posted: March 2012