Hypertension is the term used to describe high blood pressure.
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Blood pressure readings are measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg) and usually given as two numbers -- for example, 120 over 80 (written as 120/80 mmHg). One or both of these numbers can be too high.
About one in three Americans over age 20, equal to about 74 million people, have high blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association
. The consequences are daunting: About 300,000 deaths a year are attributed to high blood pressure, the AHA says. High blood pressure is a precursor to heart attacks, strokes, congestive heart failure and kidney failure, which comprise some of medicine's most debilitating and costly maladies.
Hypertension / High Blood Pressure / Above 120/80
A blood-pressure reading below 120/80 is considered "normal." High blood pressure is defined as a reading of 140/90 or higher. In between those levels is considered prehypertension, which carries higher risks for heart attacks and strokes than for those with normal blood pressure. About 28% of Americans are believed to be prehypertensive, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Men and women overall are about equally prone to high blood pressure. Men typically develop the condition at a younger age, but women as they age overtake men in the rate of high blood pressure. People over age 60 or who are overweight or obese are especially susceptible to hypertension, the AHA says. African-Americans have the highest known rate of blood pressure in the world.
Learn more: About High Blood Pressure
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