The DASH Diet (cont.)

What is high blood pressure?

Your doctor may recommend the DASH eating plan if you have high blood pressure. Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps out blood. Blood pressure rises and falls during the day.

If blood pressure rises and stays high over time (high blood pressure), it can damage the body in many ways. High blood pressure also is called hypertension (HI-per-TEN-shun).

Blood pressure includes systolic (sis-TOL-ik) and diastolic (di-a-STOL-ik) pressures. "Systolic" refers to blood pressure when the heart beats while pumping blood. "Diastolic" refers to blood pressure when the heart is at rest between beats.

You'll most often see blood pressure numbers written with the systolic number above or before the diastolic number, such as 120/80 mmHg. (The mmHg is millimeters of mercury - the units used to measure blood pressure.)

Blood pressure is considered high if it stays at or above 140/90 mmHg over time. If you have diabetes or chronic kidney disease, high blood pressure is defined as 130/80 mmHg or higher. A diagnosis of high blood pressure is based on an average of two or more properly measured, seated, blood pressure readings done during two or more office visits. High

blood pressure is dangerous because it makes your heart work too hard. The condition can damage your blood vessels and organs, such as your heart, kidneys, brain, and eyes.

High blood pressure is a risk factor for coronary heart disease (also called coronary artery disease) and stroke, two of the leading causes of death among Americans. High blood pressure also can put you at risk for other medical conditions, such as heart failure, kidney disease, and blindness.


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