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High blood pressure is a condition that puts you at risk for heart attack, stroke, and kidney disease. It does not usually cause symptoms. But it can be serious.

When your doctor or nurse tells you your blood pressure, they will say 2 numbers. For instance, your doctor or nurse might say that your blood pressure is "130 over 80." The top number is the pressure inside your arteries when your heart is contracting. The bottom number is the pressure inside your arteries when your heart is relaxed.

"Elevated blood pressure" is a term doctors or nurses use as a warning. People with elevated blood pressure do not yet have high blood pressure. But their blood pressure is not as low as it should be for good health.

Many experts define high, elevated, and normal blood pressure as follows:

  • High – Top number of 130 or above and/or bottom number of 80 or above.

  • Elevated – Top number between 120 and 129 and bottom number of 79 or below.

  • Normal – Top number of 119 or below and bottom number of 79 or below

Although the exact cause of primary hypertension remains unclear, several risk factors have been identified. Your risk is higher if you:

  • Are older (the risk increases with advancing age)

  • Have obesity

  • Have a family history of hypertension (ie, relatives who had or have high blood pressure)

  • Are a Black person

  • Consume a lot of sodium (salt) in your diet

  • Drink a lot of alcohol

  • Do not get a lot of physical activity

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