Your blood pressure rises and falls during the day. But when it stays elevated over time, it's called high blood pressure. High blood pressure is dangerous because it makes the heart work too hard.

The high force of the blood flow can harm arteries and organs such as the heart, kidneys, brain, and eyes. High blood pressure often has no warning signs or symptoms. Once it occurs, it usually lasts a lifetime. If uncontrolled, it can lead to heart and kidney disease, stroke, and blindness.

High blood pressure affects more than 65 million-or 1 in 3-American adults. About 28 percent of American adults ages 18 and older, or about 59 million people, have prehypertension, a condition that also increases the chance of heart disease and stroke.

High blood pressure is especially common among African Americans, who tend to develop it at an earlier age and more often than whites. It is also common among older Americans-individuals with normal blood pressure at age 55 have a 90 percent lifetime risk for developing high blood pressure.

5 Tips for Healthy Blood Pressure

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  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Be moderately physically active on most days of the week.
  • Follow a healthy eating plan, which includes foods low in sodium.
  • If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation.
  • If you have high blood pressure and your healthcare provider prescribes medication, take it as directed.

Fast Facts

  • "Blood pressure" is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps out blood. If this pressure rises and stays high over time, it can damage the body in many ways.
  • High blood pressure (HBP) is a serious condition that can lead to coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke, kidney failure, and other health problems.
  • About 1 in 3 adults in the United States has HBP. The condition can damage the heart, blood vessels, kidneys, and other parts of your body.
  • Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women. Although heart disease deaths in women generally have gone down, the death rate in young women (ages 35-44) is more than three times greater than for women ages 25-34. This suggests that women are not taking advantage of a critical time in their lives-their late 20s and early 30s-to take action to reduce their risk.
  • The good news is that heart disease is preventable. By leading a healthy lifestyle, Americans can lower their risk of heart disease by as much as 82 percent.