Controllable Risk Factors – High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

High blood pressure is the most important risk factor for stroke

Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries. Your blood pressure reading is expressed with two numbers — for example, 120/80. The first number, known as systolic blood pressure, is a measurement of the force your blood exerts on blood vessel walls as your heart pumps. The second number, known as diastolic blood pressure, is a measurement of the force that blood exerts on blood vessel walls when the heart is at rest between beats.

High blood pressure means the heart is pumping harder to move blood through the body. This can weaken blood vessels and damage major organs, such as the brain. Left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to stroke. As many as 73 million Americans have high blood pressure. Of the 1 in every 4 adults with high blood pressure, 31.6 percent are not aware they have it.

Doctors have long called high blood pressure “the silent killer” because a person can have high blood pressure and never have any symptoms. High blood pressure is one of the most common causes of stroke. In most people, high blood pressure can be controlled through diet, exercise, medication or a combination of all three. Free blood pressure screenings taken by a registered nurse are available at the Little Company of Mary Health Education Center in the hospital on Tuesdays from 9 AM – 11 AM, and at the Chicago Ridge Mall Health Education Center on Wednesdays from 10 AM – 12 Noon.

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