Hypertension is the medical term used to describe a condition when blood pressure is consistently elevated to levels that could lead to serious health problems. Blood pressure is a measurement of the force against the walls of your arteries as the heart pumps blood through the body. Blood pressure is determined by the amount of blood your heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries. The more blood your heart pumps and the narrower your arteries, the higher your blood pressure. Blood pressure readings are given in two numbers and measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). The top number is the maximum pressure your heart exerts while beating (systolic pressure), and the bottom number is the amount of pressure in your arteries between beats (diastolic pressure). One or both of these numbers can be too high. Hypertension is defined as having systolic blood pressure is consistently at or above 140 mmHg OR diastolic blood pressure consistently at or above 90 mmHg.
There are many risk factors that are associated with hypertension, including: higher intake of dietary sodium, being obese, having diabetes, smoking, older age and having a family history of hypertension. Having hypertension is related to the development of cardiovascular diseases, such as heart disease and stroke.
This HealthSTATS section has data on the following:
High Blood Pressure Prevalence