Hypertension Health Center

It is estimated that close to 30% of the United States population has high blood pressure (hypertension), or about 90 million people. Blood pressure is measured as the force the pumping blood exerts on the walls of the arteries in the body.

When this pressure is higher than normal (120/80 mmHg), patients are at risk for heart attack, stroke, congestive heart failure, kidney failure, and aneurysms in the arteries and brain. Even moderate high blood pressure can lead to a shortened life expectancy. Most high blood pressure is asymptomatic, and is discovered during a routine checkup.

As blood pressure reaches dangerously high levels, some people may experience symptoms such as headache, ringing in the ears, visual changes, and irregular heartbeat. These symptoms are a medical emergency. At particularly high risk for high blood pressure are African Americans, people who are obese, smokers, diabetics, having high salt intake, and having a family history. Alcohol abuse and cocaine use can also cause hypertension.

Review Date: 
May 17, 2012
Last Updated:
July 1, 2013