High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a common health problem in the United States. About 1 in 3 Americans has it, but many people don’t know they have it, because most of the time there are no symptoms. ¬†Blood pressure is the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your arteries. When your blood pressure is high the blood in your arteries is moving at a pressure higher than normal. The exact cause of high blood pressure is not known, however many different factors can play a role, including clogged arteries which comes from being overweight, lack of physical activity, smoking, too much salt in the diet, older age, genetics/family history, and even race. African-Americans are much more likely than Caucasians and other ethnic groups to develop high blood pressure, totaling at least 40% of the population. High blood pressure tends to start at a younger age among African-Americans, is often more severe, and causes greater risks for premature death from heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and kidney failure. High Blood Pressure is known as the silent killer, because there are often know symptoms or warning signs, it can quietly damage arteries and organs for years before the person even knows that anything is wrong. Not only are you more likely to suffer from heart attack, stroke, kidney failure and aneurysms, but it can also cause damage in the brain and lead to dementia or alzheimer’s disease.

It’s important to get your blood pressure checked at least once a year, preferably more often than that, and you should know your numbers. ¬†Normal blood pressure tends to be 120/80, but varies slightly with age and in the presence of other diseases such as diabetes. If you have high blood pressure make sure to take all prescribed medications, maintain a healthy diet low in salt, and get plenty of exercise.