Blood pressure is the amount of force your blood puts on your artery walls. Arteries are the tubes used to move blood from your heart to other parts of the body.

High blood pressure, also called hypertension, occurs when too much pressure is placed on the artery walls. Fats from the foods we eat, especially cholesterol, stiffen artery walls. Salt pulls more blood into the artery which increases blood pressure.

If blood pressure stays too high for too long, it can contribute to health problems including heart disease, stroke, heart attack and kidney failure.

How do I know if my blood pressure is high?

The only way to know if your blood pressure is high is to have it checked with a blood pressure monitor. Medical staff at your doctor’s office will check your blood pressure at each visit.

Why is blood pressure known as the Silent Killer?

Most people with high blood pressure do not have any symptoms, so it is important to have your blood pressure checked regularly. The first signs of high blood pressure may be a stroke or heart attack.

Understanding the Numbers

Your blood pressure is made of two measures:

1. Systolic (the first number): the highest pressure when your heart is pumping out blood

2. Diastolic (the second number): the pressure when you heart is relaxing between beats

For most people, a normal blood pressure is below 140/90. Check with your doctor about your blood pressure goals.

What can I do to prevent high blood pressure?

  • Follow a diet that is low in salt, fat and cholesterol
    • Limit cheese, red meat and fried foods
    • Limit salt by using spices or herbs to add flavor
    • Check cholesterol and salt content on food labels
  • Be physically active
  • Maintain a healthy body weight
  • Stop tobacco use
  • Limit alcohol
  • Find ways to reduce stress such as meditation or other relaxation techniques
  • Keep your chronic conditions (i.e. diabetes, high cholesterol) under control

If you have concerns about your blood pressure or would like to get checked, call your doctor or make an appointment at Union Health Center at 212-206-2755.