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Glossary High Blood Pressure:
Treat it for Life


Aneurysms: Small blister-like outpouchings of blood vessel walls. They can rupture, causing bleeding.

Blood Pressure: Pressure of blood against artery walls. Recorded as two numbers: systolic before or over diastolic.

  • Systolic: maximum pressure in the artery produced as the heart contracts and blood begins to flow.

  • Diastolic: minimum pressure that remains within the artery when the heart is at rest.

Cardiovascular: Term that describes the heart and blood vessels.

Cholesterol: A waxy substance produced by the body and taken in with food. The body needs cholesterol for functions such as making hormones. When too much cholesterol circulates in the blood, it speeds arteriosclerosis, or "hardening of the arteries."

Generic Drug: A medicine that has the same active drug as a trademarked brand-named version. Generic drugs usually cost less than their brand-name versions.

Hypertension: The medical term for high blood pressure.

mm Hg: Abbreviation for millimeters of mercury. It is used to express measures of blood pressure. It refers to the height to which the pressure in your blood vessels would push a column of mercury.

Potassium: A mineral in the body’s cells necessary for maintaining fluid balance. Good sources of potassium are bananas and orange juice. "Salt substitutes" usually contain potassium.

Salt: Common table salt or sodium chloride.

Sodium: A mineral that can contribute to high blood pressure in some people. It is found in baking soda, some antacids, the food preservative MSG (monosodium glutamate), among other items.

Sphygmomanometer: A device used to measure blood pressure.

Stroke: Sudden loss of function of part of the brain because of loss of blood flow. Stroke may be caused by a clot (thrombosis) or rupture (hemorrhage) of a blood vessel to the brain.

Vascular: A term to describe blood vessels.

Blood Pressure Categories for Adults Age 18 and Older*

Category Systolic (mmHg) Diastolic (mmHg)
Normal <130 <85
High Normal



High Blood Pressure
Stage 1 140-159 90-99
Stage 2 160-179 100-109
Stage 3 180-209 110-119
Stage 4 >=210 >=120

*For those not taking medicine for high blood pressure and not having a short term serious illness.These categories are from the National High Blood Pressure Education Program.

<= less than
>= greater than or equal to

Taking Action to Control High Blood Pressure
Having high blood pressure means that you must make some changes in your life. You'll need to do some or all of the following:
  • Lose weight if you are overweight

  • Be more physically active

  • Choose foods lower in salt and sodium

  • Limit your alcohol intake

  • Take you high blood pressure pills.

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