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High Blood Pressure and Heart Disease Risk

Blood pressure is a measure of the force of blood against the walls of the arteries as it flows through the body. Also called hypertension, high blood pressure is a condition in which the pressure in the arteries is above the normal range. Blood pressure is recorded as two measurements: Systolic and Diastolic Blood Pressure.

The pressure in the arteries as the heart beats is known as systolic blood pressure and it is the top or first number of the blood pressure reading.

The pressure in the vessels as the heart relaxes between beats is known as Diastolic blood pressure and it is the bottom or second number of the blood pressure reading.

A systolic blood pressure of 120 mm Hg and 80 mm Hg diastolic is written as 120/80.

High blood pressure is one of the most common risk factor that results in heart failure. High blood pressure puts extra pressure on the heart to work harder to contract and pump out blood against the increased pressure in the blood vessels and due to the increased workload, the muscle wall of the left ventricle becomes thicker. Over time, the overworked heart muscle can stretch and weaken, damaging the heart's ability to contract and pump blood, or it can stiffen, limiting the heart's ability to relax and fill with blood. High blood pressure usually has no symptoms and so is often called the "silent killer" because it damages your heart, kidney, and brain, even though you feel no symptoms.