Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a common condition in the twenty-first century. Blood pressure refers to the force of the blood against the walls of arteries. The more blood a heart is pumping into narrowed arteries, the higher the blood pressure will be. Two numbers are used to evaluate blood pressure – systolic and diastolic. Systolic blood pressure is the pressure when the heart is contracting, sending blood forward, and thus represents the higher blood pressure value. Diastolic blood pressure is the pressure when the heart is relaxed and filling with blood, and thus represents the lower blood pressure value. High blood pressure is generally defined as a systolic pressure of 130 mm Hg (millimeters of mercury) or higher or a diastolic pressure of 80 mm Hg or higher.
Hypertension affects nearly half of American adults, meaning more than 100 million adults have this serious condition. The likelihood of developing hypertension increases with age, with more than three-fourths of adults 65 years of age or older affected by it. Other risk factors for developing hypertension include race/ethnicity (African Americans have the greatest risk), a family history of hypertension, and overweight/obesity.