We recognize High Blood Pressure Awareness Month in May, so we asked Dr. Jims D. Jean-Jacques, a cardiologist at St. Joe’s, to answer the question: “What is high blood pressure?”
High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is a very common condition in which the force of blood flowing through your blood vessels is too high. According to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 75 million American adults (about 32%) have hypertension. That is about 1 in every 3 American adults.
For the most part, individuals with high blood pressure have no signs or symptoms. For some individuals, they can have dangerously elevated blood pressure for many years without experiencing any symptoms. That is why high blood pressure also is called the “silent killer.”
Unfortunately, even without symptoms, damage affects the heart and overall health of the body. High blood pressure substantially increases the risk of serious health problems, including heart attack, kidney problems, stroke and many other conditions or diseases.
Measuring Your Blood Pressure Numbers
In 2014, high blood pressure was the primary cause of death for more than 410,000 Americans. That’s more than 1,100 deaths each day. Since many individuals don’t know they have high blood pressure, the best way to know if you’re at-risk is to have your blood pressure checked. The American Heart Association recognizes 120/80 mm Hg as normal. Stage 1 hypertension is consistent measurements ranging from 130-139 systolic or 80-89 mm Hg diastolic.