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American Heart Month 2020: High Blood Pressure Control - We Got This!

Release Date: January 28, 2020
This February, take the opportunity to learn more about high blood pressure, and empower yourself or others to begin your journey to blood pressure control and better heart health.

"American Heart Month 2020: High Blood Pressure Control - We Got This!"

High Blood Pressure is No Match for Us

February is American Heart Month, and this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention will focus on blood pressure control and its role in heart health. This February, take the opportunity to learn more about high blood pressure, and empower yourself or others to begin your journey to blood pressure control and better heart health.

Blood Pressure Basics

Blood pressure refers to the force of blood pushing against the walls of your arteries - vessels that carry blood from your heart to other parts of your body. It is normal for your blood pressure to fluctuate throughout the day. For example, your blood pressure is typically lowest in the morning after you wake up, but if your blood pressure stays high for a long time, it can put you at risk for heart problems and other health issues.

Image of artery walls

Blood Pressure by the Numbers

Your blood pressure is measured with two numbers. The first, your systolic blood pressure, indicates the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats, or exerts force on your arteries to pump blood. The second, your diastolic blood pressure, indicates the pressure in your arteries in between beats, or when your heart is at rest. Therefore, the systolic number is higher than the diastolic number.

Normal Systolic: less than 120 mmHg
Diastolic: less than 80 mmHg
At Risk (Prehypertension) Systolic: 120-139 mmHg
Diastolic: 80-89 mmHg
High Systolic: 140 mmHg or higher
Diastolic: 90 mmHg or higher

Image of a stethoscope

Take this quiz external link from the CDC to find out if you know how to measure your blood pressure.

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure, or a blood pressure greater than 140/90 mmHg, is also referred to as hypertension. According to the CDC, 1 in 3 adults in the United States have hypertension (and only about half of those have their hypertension under control).

It is important to remember that you may not feel any symptoms of high blood pressure - that is why it is sometimes referred to as the "silent killer." The only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to have it checked. You can do this at home with a store- bought blood pressure monitor, but it is important to have it checked regularly by your health care provider as well.

Hypertension and Heart Disease

High blood pressure can increase your risk of heart disease, which is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Sustained high blood pressure can harden your arteries and subsequently decrease blood flow and oxygen to your heart, resulting in chest pain, or angina; heart failure, a condition in which your heart cannot adequately pump blood and oxygen to your other organs; or heart attack, which can occur when blood cannot reach your heart and heart muscle begins to die due to a lack of oxygen.

American Heart Month 2020: High Blood Pressure Control - We Got This!

The good news is that if you have high blood pressure, or have prehypertension, you can take steps to control it, and lower your risk of heart disease.

Work with your health care team:

  • You may be prescribed medication to lower and control your blood pressure. It is important to take your medication as ordered, and follow up with your health care provider frequently so that your blood pressure can be monitored.
    Woman Having Her Blood Pressure Taken
  • Make lifestyle changes that can help control your blood pressure:
    • Consume a diet that is low in salt, fat, and cholesterol and high in fruits and vegetables.
    • Stay active! Try taking a 10-minute walk 3 times a day, 5 days a week.
      Senior women taking a walk
    • Do not smoke, or quit smoking as soon as possible.

American Heart Month is a great time to educate yourself about high blood pressure and how it can put you at risk for heart disease, learn your blood pressure numbers, and take steps to get your blood pressure under control. "We got this!"

A man and a woman exercising

Check out the following pages from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to learn more about high blood pressure and heart disease prevention.

https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/index.htm external link
https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/prevention.htm external link

Photos courtesy of cdc.gov