- A Visual Guide to Heart Disease
- Medical Illustrations of the Heart Image Collection
- Take the Heart Disease Quiz!
- Patient Comments: Heart Attacks in Women - Prevention
- Patient Comments: Heart Attacks in Women - Signs and Symptoms
- Find a local Doctor in your town
- One woman's heart attack story
- What is heart disease?
- Do women need to worry about heart disease?
- Do women of color need to worry about heart disease?
- What can I do to prevent heart disease?
- What does high blood pressure have to do with heart disease?
- How can I lower my blood pressure?
- What does high cholesterol have to do with heart disease?
- What do my cholesterol and triglyceride numbers mean?
- How can I lower my cholesterol?
- How do I know if I have heart disease?
- What are the signs and symptoms of a heart attack?
- One of my family members had a heart attack. Does that mean I'll have one too?
- Sometimes my heart beats really fast and other times it feels like my heart skips a beat. Am I having a heart attack?
- Should I take a daily aspirin to prevent heart attack?
- Does taking birth control pills increase my risk for heart disease?
- Does using the birth control patch increase my risk for heart disease?
- Does menopausal hormone therapy (HT, HRT, ET) increase a woman's risk for heart disease?
- For more information on heart disease in women
Quick GuideAm I Having a Heart Attack? Symptoms of Heart Disease
What does high blood pressure have to do with heart disease?
Blood pressure is the force your blood makes against the walls of your arteries. The pressure is highest when your heart pumps blood into your arteries – when it beats. It is lowest between heart beats, when your heart relaxes. A doctor or nurse will write down your blood pressure as the higher number over the lower number. For instance, you could have a blood pressure of 110/70 (read as "110 over 70"). A blood pressure reading below 120/80 is usually considered normal. Very low blood pressure (lower than 90/60) can sometimes be a cause of concern and should be checked out by a doctor.
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a blood pressure reading of 140/90 or higher. Years of high blood pressure can damage artery walls, causing them to become stiff and narrow. This includes the arteries carrying blood to the heart. As a result, your heart cannot get the blood it needs to work well. This can cause a heart attack.
A blood pressure reading of 120/80 to 139/89 is considered prehypertension. This means that you don't have high blood pressure now but are likely to develop it in the future.
How can I lower my blood pressure?
If you have hypertension or prehypertension, you may be able to lower your
blood pressure by:
- losing weight if you are overweight orobese
- getting at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate physical activity or 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous activity each week.
- limiting alcohol to one drink per day
- quitting smoking if you smoke
- reducing stress
- following the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Eating Plan, which includes cutting down on salt and sodium and eating healthy foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products
If lifestyle changes do not lower your blood pressure, your doctor may prescribe medicine.