Whether you’re getting your annual physical or going to the urgent care center for a sore throat, checking your blood pressure is a routine procedure for medical visits. It’s important to maintain a healthy blood pressure, but we think it’s also important to understand the science behind it.
Here are answers to five of the most commonly asked blood pressure questions. We hope they help you take control of your heart (and overall) health and well-being.
1. What is blood pressure?
Blood pressure is the force of blood against the walls of the arteries. As blood flows away from the heart and through the arteries, the blood presses up against the artery walls. Your blood pressure measures how much pressure the blood is putting on the arteries.
Blood pressure naturally rises and falls throughout the day. But when blood pressure stays elevated over time, it’s called high blood pressure and often results in a diagnosis of hypertension.
2. What does my blood pressure reading mean? Do I have a healthy blood pressure?
According to the American Heart Association, your blood pressure is recorded using two numbers:
- Systolic blood pressure (the first number) indicates how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls when the heart beats.
- Diastolic blood pressure (the second number) indicates how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls while the heart is resting between beats.
3. Why is high blood pressure dangerous?
4. How do you know if you're at risk?
5. Can you lower your risk or reverse a diagnosis?
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