How High Blood Pressure Can Lead to Heart Disease and Stroke

What’s hypertension?

It’s natural for your blood pressure to rise and fall throughout the day. For example, your blood pressure typically increases with physical activity and decreases when you sleep.

How High Blood Pressure Can Lead to Heart Disease and Stroke

According to 2017 recommendations from the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association, high blood pressure is diagnosed when your blood pressure readings are consistently above 130/80 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg).

The following blood pressure chart provides a breakdown of normal, elevated, and high levels:

Systolic pressureDiastolic pressure
DefinitionThe upper number on a blood pressure reading represents the pressure in your arteries during a heartbeat.The lower number on a blood pressure reading represents the pressure in your arteries between heartbeats.
Normalless than 120 mm Hgless than 80 mm Hg
Elevatedbetween 120 and 129 mm Hgless than 80 mm Hg
Stage 1 hypertensionbetween 130 and 139 mm Hgbetween 80 and 89 mm Hg
Stage 2 hypertension140 mm Hg or higher90 mm Hg or higher

Many factors can raise your risk of high blood pressure. Some of these risk factors, such as your age, sex, and family history, are unavoidable.

Other risk factors are linked to lifestyle, such as alcohol or tobacco use, inactivity, or too much dietary sodium.

Some health conditions can also increase your risk of high blood pressure, such as:

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