High blood pressure is defined as a systolic blood pressure at or above 140 mm Hg and/or a diastolic blood pressure at or above 90 mm Hg. Systolic blood pressure is the maximum pressure in the arteries when the heart contracts. Diastolic blood pressure is the minimum pressure in the arteries between the heart's contractions.
Hypertension or high blood pressure is a risk factor for coronary heart disease and the single most important risk factor for stroke. Hypertension stresses the body's blood vessels, causing them to clog or weaken. Hypertension can lead to atherosclerosis and narrowing of the blood vessels making them more likely to block from blood clots or bits of fatty material breaking off from the lining of the blood vessel wall.
Although increasing blood pressure is part of aging, a healthy low salt diet, physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight can reduce the risk.
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