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Take Control of Your Blood Pressure

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High blood pressure is a serious condition that can increase your risk for heart disease, stroke and other health problems. It’s often called the “silent killer” because many people never show symptoms. In fact, about one in three U.S. adults has high blood pressure. That’s why it’s important to see your physician regularly to ensure your blood pressure is normal and stays under control.

Blood pressure is measured in two numbers: systolic (top number) and diastolic (bottom number). “Systolic” refers to blood pressure when the heart is beating while pumping blood. “Diastolic” refers to blood pressure when the heart is resting between beats. Normal blood pressure is generally less than 120 over 80 (120/80).

Your blood pressure normally lowers when you sleep and rises when you are awake. It also generally rises when you are excited or active. Blood pressure also tends to rise with age. But if your blood pressure rises above a normal range and stays high over time, it can cause damage to your heart, blood vessels, kidneys, and other parts of the body.

Risk factors for developing high blood pressure include family history, poor diet, lack of physical activity, being overweight and smoking. You can take steps to help prevent high blood pressure by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including exercise and a heart healthy diet. If your blood pressure is too high, your physician can help determine treatment options to control your blood pressure and help prevent damage to your health.

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