What is high blood
High blood pressure is known as the "silent killer"
because it often has no symptoms. Left uncontrolled, high blood pressure can
lead to heart disease, heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, or blindness.
Making some lifestyle changes and taking any prescribed medication should keep
your blood pressure under control.
How Blood Pressure Affects
As blood moves through your body, it presses against
the inside walls of arteries (blood vessels that carry blood to the body).
Frequent high blood pressure can cause changes in the artery walls. The walls
thicken and become rough, which leads to a buildup of plaque (a fatty
Measuring Blood Pressure
Your blood pressure is too high if it measures
140/90 (140 over 90) or higher most of the time. The top number is the pressure
of blood against the artery walls during a heartbeat (systolic). The bottom
number is the pressure of blood against artery walls between heartbeats
| Top (systolic)
140 or higher
| Bottom (diastolic)
Your High Blood Pressure Risk
Risk factors are things that make you more likely to
have a disease or condition. Do you know your risk factors for high blood
pressure? You can’t do anything about some risk factors. But other risk factors
are things that can be changed. Know what high blood pressure risk factors you
have. Then find out what changes you can make to help control your risk for high
blood pressure. Start with the change that you think will be easiest for
Risk Factors You Can’t
Though you can’t change any of the things listed
below, check off the ones that apply to you. The more boxes you check, the
greater your risk for high blood pressure.
One or both of your parents or grandparents has had
high blood pressure or heart disease.
A close male relative had heart disease or a heart
attack before age 55.
A close female relative had heart disease or a heart
attack before age 65.
Gender and Age
Risk Factors You
There are plenty of
risk factors for high blood pressure that you can control. Learn what these risk
factors are and then find out how to reduce your risk.
What You Eat Do you eat a lot of salty, fatty,
fried, or greasy foods?
If You Smoke Do you smoke cigarettes or
cigars, chew tobacco, or dip snuff?
How Active You Are Are you inactive most of
the time at work and at home?
Your Weight Has your doctor said that you are
15 or more pounds overweight?
Your Stress Level Do you often feel anxious,
nervous, and stressed?
Controlling High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure (hypertension) is called the silent
killer. This is because many people who have it don’t know it. Normal blood
pressure is less than 120/80. Know your blood pressure and remember to check it
regularly. Doing so can save your life. Here are some things you can do to help
control your blood pressure.
Select low-salt, low-fat foods.
Limit canned, dried, cured, packaged, and fast
foods. These can contain a lot of salt.
Eat 8–10 servings of fruits and vegetables
Choose lean meats, fish, or chicken.
Eat whole-grain pasta, brown rice, and
Eat 2–3 servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy
Ask your doctor about the DASH eating plan. This
plan helps reduce blood pressure.
Maintain a healthy
Ask your healthcare provider how many calories to
eat a day. Then stick to that number.
Ask your healthcare provider what weight range is
healthiest for you. If you are overweight, weight loss of only 10 lbs can help
lower blood pressure.
Limit snacks and sweets.
Get regular exercise.
Get up and get
Choose activities you enjoy. Find ones you can do
with friends or family.
Park farther away from building
Use stairs instead of the elevator.
When you can, walk or bike instead of
Rake leaves, garden, or do household
Be active for at least 30 minutes a day, most days
of the week.
Make time to relax and enjoy life. Find time to
Visit with family and friends, and keep up with
Limit alcohol and quit
Men: Have no more than 2 drinks per day.
Women: Have no more than 1 drink per day.
Talk with your healthcare provider about quitting
smoking. Smoking increases your risk for heart disease and stroke. Ask about
local or community programs that can help.
© 2006 The StayWell Company