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Blood pressure is the measure of the force generated by the heart as it pumps blood through the arterial system.

This force is expressed as two numbers, such as 110 over 80 mm Hg (millimeters of mercury). The first number, the "systolic" blood pressure, represents the amount of force used by the heart to initially fill the blood vessel circuit; the second number, the "diastolic" blood pressure, is a measure of the resistance to that force. Combined, these numbers give your healthcare provider a picture of how hard your heart is working to get blood to the tissues in your body.

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is blood pressure that consistently reads above 140 over 90 mm Hg. Hypertension causes undue stress to the circulation of key organs, particularly the brain, heart and kidneys. This leads to increased risk of stroke, heart attack and kidney failure. Hypertension also can cause an aneurysm, a small balloon-like weakening of the artery wall, which can be life-threatening.

Hypertension can be especially hard to manage when combined with other disorders, such as diabetes or obesity.


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