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Healtheuniversity > English > Cardiac College > Treat Heart Disease > Risk Factors > High Blood Pressure

High Blood Pressure

What Is Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure is a measure of the force of the heart pumping blood against the walls of the arteries.

Blood pressure is expressed as two numbers, such as 120/80, and is measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg.).

  • The top number (systolic blood pressure) is the force of blood when the heart contracts.
  • The bottom number (diastolic blood pressure) is the force of blood when the heart relaxes. Both numbers are important. 

​Desirable blood pressure level

  • Less than 140/90 mmHg (without diabetes)
  • Less than 130/80 mmHg (people living with diabetes)

Why is High Blood Pressure a Risk Factor?

High blood pressure often has no warning signs. For this reason, high blood pressure has been called “a silent killer”.

Over time, high blood pressure can damage the walls of the arteries or of the heart. This damage can cause plaque to build up in the arteries, blocking blood flow to the heart.

Untreated high blood pressure can also lead to kidney disease, stroke, and impaired heart functioning (heart failure).

Factors that can increase blood pressure include:

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