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High Blood Pressure

Information And Treatment

Blood pressure is the pushing of blood against the arteries. Blood pressure tends to rise and fall during the day. When this pressure is consistently too strong, it means that you have high blood pressure, or hypertension. One out of three Americans has high blood pressure, and younger people are not immune to this "silent killer." A 2011 study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that 19 percent of Americans ages 24 to 32 has high blood pressure.

Normal blood pressure is below 120/80, and blood pressure at 140/90 or higher is considered high. Anything in the middle range is considered prehypertention and likely to develop into high blood pressure.

The first number represents systolic pressure, which is the force of blood in the arteries when the heart beats. The second, bottom number is diastolic blood pressure, the force of blood in the arteries when the heart is at rest.

While men and women are more likely to develop high blood pressure after the age of 55, you can have high blood pressure at any age. For example, pregnant women are prone to develop high blood pressure, and women taking birth control pills are also at higher risk. African-Americans tend to develop high blood pressure earlier in life than other people. People under severe stress often develop high blood pressure. Ultimately, 90 percent of people will eventually develop high blood pressure.

High blood pressure is sometimes called the silent killer because it can cause a host of health complications. High blood pressure can damage the lining of the arteries, causing them to harden (a condition called arteriosclerosis). Hardened arteries can lead to aneurysms, heart attacks, strokes and kidney disease.