]]> Hypertension]]> is the medical term for high blood pressure. Blood pressure is the force of blood flow against the artery walls.

The Cardiovascular System

The Cardiovascular System
© 2009 Nucleus Medical Art, Inc.

Blood pressure measurements are read as two numbers. The higher number, called the systolic pressure, represents the pressure in the artery when the heart beats. The lower number, called the diastolic pressure, represents the pressure when the heart is at rest. Normal blood pressure is in the range of 120/80. High blood pressure, or hypertension, is defined as systolic pressure greater than 140 and/or diastolic pressure greater than 90. Blood pressure fluctuates throughout each day.

In most cases, the cause of hypertension is unknown. Genetic factors may be involved. In addition, the following conditions may cause hypertension: narrowing of the arteries, excess fluid in the blood, stronger than normal heartbeats, certain medications, or disorders of the kidneys, nervous system, or endocrine system (hormones).

Anatomy of the Heart

Heartbeat: Anatomy of the Heart
© 2009 Nucleus Medical Art, Inc.

Over time, high blood pressure can damage organs and tissues. It also increases the risk of coronary heart disease, ]]>stroke]]>, and ]]>congestive heart failure]]>, and it seems to contribute to hardening of the arteries.

According to the American Heart Association, about 73 million Americans have high blood pressure, but it's estimated that over half of these people do not have their condition under control.

]]>What are the risk factors for hypertension?]]>
]]>What are the symptoms of hypertension?]]>
]]>How is hypertension diagnosed?]]>
]]>What are the treatments for hypertension?]]>
]]>Are there screening tests for hypertension?]]>
]]>How can I reduce my risk of hypertension?]]>
]]>What questions should I ask my doctor?]]>
]]>What is it like to live with hypertension?]]>
]]>Where can I get more information about hypertension?]]>