About one out of three adults in the United States has high blood pressure. It is often called a “silent killer,” because it doesn't usually show symptoms while it is causing damage.
Blood pressure is a measure of how hard the blood pushes against the walls of your arteries as it moves through your body. Consistently high blood pressure can damage the walls of your blood vessels and increase your risk for heart disease, stroke and kidney problems.
Your blood pressure consists of two numbers, written like this: 120/80 or 120 over 80. The top larger number is the systolic pressure. It measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats or contracts.
The bottom smaller number is the diastolic pressure. It measures the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats – when the heart muscle is resting and refilling with blood.
A normal blood pressure is less than 120/80. Pre-hypertension is 120-139/80-89. Hypertension is defined as blood pressure greater than 140 systolic or 90 diastolic. These are just guidelines, and your Mercy doctor will make the diagnosis depending on your specific numbers and any other health conditions you may have.
Most people find out that they have high blood pressure during a routine doctor visit. For your doctor to confirm that you have high blood pressure, your blood pressure must be at least 140/90 on two separate occasions. It is usually measured one to four weeks apart.
Treatment depends on how high your blood pressure is, whether you have other health problems and whether any organs have already been damaged. For most people, treatment involves medications, plus changing eating and lifestyle habits.
Your Mercy primary care physician will routinely check your blood pressure and prescribe medications as needed. Your doctor also has access to the Mercy network of specialists if there are concerns about treating more complicated matters. Our goal is keeping your blood pressure under control and your life on track.