Blood pressure is the force of the blood pushing against the artery walls. The force is generated with each heartbeat as blood is pumped from the heart into the blood vessels.
Two numbers are recorded when measuring blood pressure. The top number, or systolic pressure, refers to the pressure inside the artery when the heart contracts and pumps blood through the body. The bottom number, or diastolic pressure, refers to the pressure inside the artery when the heart is at rest and is filling with blood.
High blood pressure, known as hypertension, directly increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. With high blood pressure, the arteries may have an increased resistance against the flow of blood, causing the heart to pump harder to circulate the blood. Usually, high blood pressure has no signs or symptoms. However, you can know if your blood pressure is high by having it checked regularly by your health care provider.
Being overweight, excessive sodium intake and a lack of exercise and physical activity contribute to high blood pressure.
High blood pressure can be controlled by choosing foods that are low in sodium (salt); choosing foods low in calories and fat; choosing foods high in fiber; maintaining a healthy weight, or losing weight if overweight.
Sometimes daily medication is needed to control high blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, have your blood pressure checked routinely and see your doctor to monitor the condition.Previous Page Last Review Date: August 14, 2019