Blood pressure measures the force of blood moving against the walls of your arteries. If a person’s arteries are narrow and the heart has to work harder to pump blood, it can cause high blood pressure. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, can lead to heart, blood vessel and kidney damage. This can lead to heart attack, heart failure or stroke.
Blood pressure includes two numbers:
- The top number, called the systolic pressure, shows how hard the blood pushes when the heart is pumping
- The bottom number, called the diastolic pressure, shows how hard the blood pushes when the heart is between beats (resting).
High blood pressure is 140/90 or higher. Those with high blood pressure should make lifestyle changes to reduce their blood pressure and prevent irreversible damage.
High blood pressure is often called the silent killer because a person can have it for years with no symptoms. This is why Centegra Health System and the American Heart Association recommend that you know your numbers.
Over time, high blood pressure can cause:
- Vision problems
- Nausea and vomiting
Lifestyle modification is one of the best ways to treat high blood pressure and prehypertension. Centegra’s doctors and nurses recommend that you:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Closely watch the amount of salt in your diet and learn how to kick up flavor without adding salt.
- Exercise daily
- Limit alcohol to one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men
In addition to lifestyle changes, some people also need medication to lower their blood pressure. The medication will depend on your overall wellness and whether you have other health conditions or diseases.
A blood pressure screening is part of every doctor’s appointment at Centegra Physician Care. Call 815-338-6600 to find a physician near you.