What is Blood Pressure & Hypertension?

  • Blood pressure is the pressure of blood pushing against the walls of your arteries. Arteries carry blood from your heart to other parts of your body.
  • Blood pressure normally rises and falls throughout the day, but it can damage your heart and cause health problems if it stays high for a long time.
  • Hypertension also called high blood pressure, is blood pressure that is higher than normal.

Facts About Hypertension

  • Nearly half of the adults in the United States (47% or 116 million) have hypertension, defined as a systolic blood pressure greater than 130 mmHg, or a diastolic blood pressure greater than 80 mmHg or are taking medication for hypertension.
  • Having hypertension puts you at risk for heart disease and stroke, which are leading causes of death in the United States.
  • In 2020, more than 670,000 deaths in the United States had hypertension as a primary or contributing cause.

How can you Lower your Blood Pressure?

  • Exercise! Whether you’re just getting started or adding to your exercise routine, exercise has been shown to help reduce cholesterol and hypertension.
  • Eat healthy! Whole grains, fresh or frozen fruits, fresh or frozen veggies, lean sources of protein like chicken and fish, heart healthy fats and focusing on drinking water rather than sugary beverages! You can learn more here.
  • Focus on mental health and well-being which includes stress management, healthy habits, and sleep.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • See your primary care provider.

Disparities in Rates of Blood Pressure Control

  • Social determinants of health, like racism, are key to a lot of health inequities and negatively affects the mental and physical health of millions of people. Click here to learn more about how disparities affect health.
  • High blood pressure is more common in Non-Hispanic Black adults (56%) than in Non-Hispanic White adults (48%), Non-Hispanic Asian adults (46%), or Hispanic adults (39%).
  • Among those recommended to take blood pressure medication, blood pressure control is higher among Non-Hispanic White adults (32%) than in Non-Hispanic Black adults (25%), Non-Hispanic Asian adults (19%), or Hispanic adults (25%).
Blood Pressure Category Systolic Blood Pressure   Diastolic Blood Pressure
Normal <120 mmHg and <80 mmHg
Elevated 120-129 mmHg and <80 mmHg
Stage 1 130-139 mmHg or 80-89 mmHg
Stage 2 ≥140mmHg or ≥90 mmHg
Hypertensive Crisis ≥180 mmHg ≥ 120 mmHg

American College of Cardiology & American Heart Association Guidelines (2017)


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. About Multiple Causes of Death, 1999–2020. CDC WONDER Online Database website. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 2022. Accessed February 21, 2022.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hypertension Cascade: Hypertension Prevalence, Treatment and Control Estimates Among U.S. Adults Aged 18 Years and Older Applying the Criteria from the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association’s 2017 Hypertension Guideline—NHANES 2015–2018. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2021. Accessed March 12, 2021.