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What is High Blood Pressure
Credit LifeClinic.com

Blood pressure is the pressure of the blood flowing through your blood vessels against the vessel walls. It depends on your blood flow (how much blood is pumped by your heart) and the resistance of your blood vessels to blood flow. If the pressure is high, your heart must work much harder to maintain adequate blood flow to your body.

What's Blood Pressure - Diagram

This Section © 1996 Wellsource, Inc.

What causes it?
The causes of high blood pressure can vary, and most of the time, the cause isn't known. This form of the condition is called "essential hypertension." It might be due to a narrowing of the arteries, more blood than normal, or the heart beating more forcefully or faster than it usually should. Any of these conditions can raise the force of the blood against the artery walls.

Sometimes high blood pressure can be caused by another medical problem, such as kidney disease. When this happens, the condition is called "secondary hypertension." As the name indicates, treating the main problem makes the blood pressure go down.

This section © National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Systolic and diastolic
Your heart can beat more than 100,000 times a day. Each time it beats, a surge of blood is pumped from your heart into your arteries. This increases the pressure in your arteries. In between heartbeats the pressure in your arteries decreases.

Diagram Of Systolic & Diastolic Phases

That is why blood pressure is reported as two numbers, e.g., 120/80. The first, higher number (systolic) is the pressure of the blood against the artery walls when the heart contracts (e.g., 120). The second, lower number (diastolic) is the pressure against the artery walls when the heart relaxes between beats (e.g., 80).

Desirable blood pressure

Desirable Blood Pressure
For Healthy Adults
  120
80
systolic
diastolic

Any blood pressure reading that consistently stays at 140/90 or higher is considered high blood pressure.

Low blood pressure
It is rare that a person has blood pressure that is too low. For some young or small people, a blood pressure reading of 90/70 or even 80/60 is perfectly normal and healthy. When their blood pressure is really too low, people feel dizzy or light headed every time they stand up, or they always feel tired and lacking energy.

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