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Blood Pressure Facts

Blood pressure is the force of the flowing blood against the artery or blood vessel walls. It is measured with two numbers: 120/80. The first number (120) is the systolic pressure – which is when the heart contracts and pumps blood through the body. The lower number (80) is the diastolic pressure – the pressure in the blood vessel between pumps when the heart is at rest.

Normal blood pressure is 120/80. High blood pressure or hypertension is considered a blood pressure reading that is equal to or greater than 140/90 for an extended period of time. Elevated blood pressure means that your heart and arteries must work harder than normal.

Elevated blood pressure is also called high blood pressure or "hypertension." This is a condition when the blood pressure remains elevated over a period of time. Approximately 50 million Americans have hypertension or are taking high blood pressure medication.

Common causes of high blood pressure are kidney or thyroid disease. Other factors such as age, genetics, stress, obesity, smoking, high-salt diet, smoking and an inactive lifestyle can contribute to the likelihood of getting high blood pressure.

High blood pressure has no specific or easily recognized symptoms. Some symptoms that may be associated with high blood pressure are headaches, unexplainable nosebleeds, dizziness, and irregular or racing heartbeats. Hypertension is serious business and if left unchecked may cause other health problems including heart attack, stroke, kidney damage and blindness.

 Link to the American Heart Association for more information.

Tampa Fire Rescue offers free blood pressure checks at each of the fire stations. Trained firefighters will record your blood pressure on a complimentary card so that you can track your blood pressure for evaluation by a physician.