According to guidelines set by the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association Task Force on Clinical Practice Guidelines, nearly half of American adults have high blood pressure. If you don’t have high blood pressure yourself, chances are you know someone who does. Being aware of high blood pressure and hypertension is critical. When left undiagnosed, it can lead to heart attack, stroke, or other dangerous health conditions. The first step towards preventing or mitigating the risks of high blood pressure is recognizing the issue. While it is often called the “silent killer,” there are some common signs and symptoms of high blood pressure you can watch out for.
What Is Blood Pressure & How Is It Measured?
Blood pressure is the pressure or force of the blood as it moves through your circulatory system. It is most commonly measured using a tool called a sphygmomanometer. You have probably used one of these instruments before even if you don’t recognize the name. It uses an inflatable arm cuff that puts pressure on the artery to measure the systolic and diastolic pressure on your blood vessels.
To get these readings, blood pressure monitors use a gauge with a measurement unit called millimeters of mercury (mmHg). Your blood pressure is read using two standard numbers, systolic and diastolic. A typical blood pressure reading may look something like 120/80 mmHg, which is read aloud as 120 over 80 millimeters of mercury. Most people will also drop the last part and only say the numbers—120 over 80.
What Is Systolic Blood Pressure?
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The systolic number appears on top of the blood pressure reading and is…