More Young Adults at Risk for High Blood Pressure

What Is High Blood Pressure?

Simply put, blood pressure is the force exerted by blood on the walls of the arteries and veins as it courses through the body. Like the ocean tide, it is normal for blood pressure to rise and fall throughout the day. Blood pressure is lowest when you are sleeping and rises when you awaken. But when the pressure stays elevated over time, it causes the heart to pump harder and work overtime, possibly leading to various, serious health problems, ranging from hardening of the arteries, stroke, and brain hemorrhage to kidney malfunction and blindness.
Blood pressure is recorded as two numbers, the systolic (pressure during a heartbeat) over the diastolic (pressure between heartbeats). For example, a measurement of 120/80 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) is expressed as “120 over 80.” Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80. People with pressures between 120/80 and 139/89 are considered to have pre-hypertension and are likely to develop high blood pressure without preventative measures.
Today, clinical guidelines recommend that physicians work with patients to keep their blood pressures below 140/90 mmHg, and even lower for people with diabetes or kidney ailments. In all cases, patients are encouraged to lose excess weight, exercise regularly, not smoke, limit intake of alcoholic beverages, and follow heart-healthy eating plans, including cutting back on salt and other forms of sodium.