Are you being stalked by silent killer?
Aug. 7, 2012 at 3:07 a.m.
Updated Aug. 8, 2012 at 3:08 a.m.
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is called the silent killer because it gives no warnings. Victims can have dangerously high blood pressure and never feel faint, in pain or dizzy. Complications include heart attack, heart failure, stroke, aneurysm, kidney problems, vision loss and trouble with memory and understanding.
Age: Risk increases for men starting at middle age. Women are more susceptible after menopause.
Race: More common for blacks.
Salt: High-salt diets increase risk.
Genetic: It runs in the family.
Weight: The more you weigh, the higher the risk.
Sedentary lifestyle: Less activity equals higher risk.
Tobacco: Causes arteries to narrow, increasing pressure.
Alcohol: Heavy drinkers (more than two drinks a day) have higher risk.
Some chronic conditions: High cholesterol, diabetes, kidney disease and sleep apnea.
What the numbers mean
Blood pressure readings consist of two numbers, systolic and diastolic: Systolic is force of blood moving through arteries as the heart beats.
Diastolic is the force of blood moving through arteries as heart rests.
Normal blood pressure is 120 or less systolic and less than 80 diastolic.
Prehypertensive blood pressure is 120-139 systolic or 80-89 diastolic.
Hypertensive blood pressure is 140-159 systolic or 90 or greater diastolic.
Check your pressure
If you don't regularly see a doctor, here are some options:
Free machines in some stores measure blood pressure, but can give you inaccurate results.
Free screening at a health resource fair or other locations in your community. Check vicad.com's community calendar.
Blood pressure monitors can be bought in most stores. Prices begin around $30.