May 1, 2022

May is Hypertension Awareness Month! Hypertension, often referred to as high blood pressure, can affect the body in many ways and is often referred to as the silent killer because it can lead to an increased risk of stroke, heart attack, or other serious diseases without necessarily alerting you to a problem. High blood pressure was a primary or contributing cause of death for 516,955 people in the United States in 2019 (CDC).

What is blood pressure? 

Blood pressure is the pressure of blood pushing against the walls of your arteries. Arteries carry blood from your heart to other parts of your body.

Blood pressure normally rises and falls throughout the day, but it can damage your heart and cause health problems if it stays high for a long time.

Facts About Hypertension in the United States (From CDC)

In 2017, the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association published new guidelines for hypertension management and defined high hypertension as a blood pressure at or above 130/80 mmHg. Stage 2 hypertension is defined as a blood pressure at or above 140/90 mmHg.1

Blood Pressure Categories
Blood Pressure CategorySystolic Blood PressureDiastolic Blood Pressure
  Normal<120 mmHgand<80 mmHg
  Elevated120-129 mmHgand<80 mmHg
  Stage 1130-139 mmHgor80-89 mmHg
  Stage 2≥140 mmHgor≥90 mmHg

  • Having hypertension puts you at risk for heart disease and stroke, which are leading causes of death in the United States.
  • In 2019, more than half a million deaths in the United States had hypertension as a primary or contributing cause.
  • Nearly half of adults in the United States (47%, or 116 million) have hypertension, defined as a systolic blood pressure greater than 130 mmHg or a diastolic blood pressure greater than 80 mmHg or are taking medication for hypertension.
  • Only about 1 in 4 adults (24%) with hypertension have their condition under control.
  • About half of adults (45%) with uncontrolled hypertension have a blood pressure of 140/90 mmHg or higher. This includes 37 million U.S. adults.
  • About 34 million adults who are recommended to take medication may need it to be prescribed and to start taking it. Almost two out of three of this group (19 million) have a blood pressure of 140/90 mmHg or higher.
  • High blood pressure was a primary or contributing cause of death for 516,955 people in the United States in 2019.
  • High blood pressure costs the United States about $131 billion each year, averaged over 12 years from 2003 to 2014.

Why do I need to worry about high blood pressure?

When your blood pressure stays high over time, it causes the heart to pump harder and work overtime, possibly leading to serious health problems such as heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and kidney failure.

What are the treatments for high blood pressure?

Treatments for high blood pressure include heart-healthy lifestyle changes and medicines.

When you have high blood pressure, you work with your provider to come up with a treatment plan which may involve lifestyle choice changes and/or medications.

What can you do to help reduce your risk of high blood pressure or manage an existing condition?

Monitor your Blood Pressure

How do I know if I have Hypertension?

Most people will not experience any symptoms from Hypertension. Some people may develop symptoms if their blood pressure is dangerously high, such as headaches, dizziness, blurred vision, chest pain or shortness of breath. This is why it is so important to have a regular checkup with your primary care provider. It is recommended that your blood pressure be checked at least once a year, or more if you have other medical conditions that put you at higher risk for hypertension, such as obesity or a family history of hypertension.