Are you about to become a victim of a silent killer? How would you know if you were on its hit list? Most often, high blood pressure (hypertension) has no symptoms. It attacks people of all ages and backgrounds. This common criminal strikes without warning. And it may leave death and destruction in its path. Its calling card? Stroke, heart attack, heart failure, kidney failure, blindness, and more. But you can stop this silent killer—if you catch it in time.

Confront the Killer

Don't become high blood pressure's next victim. Confront the killer and stop it in its tracks. Start by learning the facts about blood pressure and how it becomes high. Then check your blood pressure as often as your doctor suggests. Spring into action if your blood pressure is too high.

Learn the Facts

You need blood pressure to live. But high blood pressure increases your risk of stroke, heart attack, heart failure, kidney failure, and blindness. Learn how to lower your risk.

Check Your Pressure

If your blood pressure is high, you may be under attack by this silent killer and not even know it. So get your pressure checked. It's easy, painless, and quick!

Follow Your Plan

You can control high blood pressure if you have a plan. All it takes is regular health checkups, simple changes in what you eat, exercise, and, sometimes, medication.

Assess Your Risk

The silent killer may be after you—and you may not even know it. Although high blood pressure can attack anyone, some people are at greater risk than others. Read through the statements below. How many of them apply to you? Each statement that applies to you increases your risk of high blood pressure. Read on to learn how to keep this silent killer under control.

Your Lifestyle

  • You smoke.

  • You often eat salty, fried, or greasy food.

  • You often have more than two alcoholic drinks (a total of 1 ounce of pure alcohol) a day

  • You often feel very stressed.

  • You have a "sit-down" lifestyle (you don't get much exercise at work or at home).

Your Background

  • You are over age 60.

  • A parent, brother, or sister has had high blood pressure, heart disease, or a stroke.

  • You're an African American.

Your Medical History

  • You are overweight.

  • Your cholesterol level is over 200.

  • You have diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, or arterial disease of the legs.

  • You've had a stroke.

  • It's been more than a year since you had your blood pressure checked.

The Facts About Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is the force created as your heart pumps blood and moves it through your blood vessels. This constant blood flow provides your body with the oxygen it needs. In short, it keeps you alive. Read on to learn about blood pressure and its role in keeping you alive and healthy. This will help you understand how high blood pressure can harm your blood vessels and your heart.

Your Heart: A Nonstop Pump

Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, your heart pumps away, sending oxygen-rich blood through your body. Your heart is a strong, fist-sized muscle. When it contracts (squeezes), blood moves from the heart into your blood vessels.

Blood moves through your heart then back out to your body in these steps:

  • Used blood depleted of oxygen arrives from the blood vessels to your heart.

  • Your heart pumps the used blood to your lungs, where it receives a fresh oxygen supply.

  • Fresh blood, now rich with oxygen, returns to your heart from your lungs.

  • Your heart pumps the fresh blood out through the blood vessels to the rest of your body.

Your Vessels: Pipelines for Blood

Your blood vessels are a network of stretchy, smoothly lined "pipes." These pipes are surrounded by muscles and nerves. The vessels that carry fresh blood from your heart to your body are called arteries. The vessels that return used blood from your body back to your heart and lungs are called veins.

Your Guide to Hypertension

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Did You Know?

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High blood pressure, or hypertension, is known as the "silent killer" because: