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reviewed 10/30/2018

Blood pressure: true or false?

About 46 percent of American adults have high blood pressure—also known as hypertension. But do you know what that really means for your health? Take this quiz to find out.

True or false: High blood pressure often caused symptoms like sweating, nervousness, trouble sleeping and a flushed face.

False. It usually doesn't have any signs or symptoms. You can have high blood pressure for years and feel fine. But you won't realize that it is damaging your heart, blood vessels, kidneys and other organs—and putting you at risk for stroke. That's why it's so important to have your blood pressure checked regularly.

True or false: Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury, which is why readings end in the abbreviation mm Hg.

True. Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury, which has the symbol Hg. So a blood pressure measurement of 120/80 mm Hg is read as "120 over 80 millimeters of mercury."

True or false: For most adults, optimal blood pressure is less than 120/80 mm Hg.

True. An optimal blood pressure reading is less than 120 and less than 80. If either number is higher, then your blood pressure is higher than normal too. People with diabetes or kidney disease may have different blood pressure goals.

True or false: High blood pressure is defined as 130/80 mm Hg or higher.

True. If your top number is between 120 and 129 and your bottom number is less than 80, your blood pressure is elevated—which could lead to high blood pressure if your numbers keep rising.

True or false: Medications are the first line of treatment in lowering blood pressure.

False. Lifestyle changes are sometimes all that is needed to take control of high blood pressure. These include avoiding tobacco and alcohol, losing weight, increasing your physical activity, and eating healthy foods.

It's important to know your risk factors for high blood pressure. Ask your doctor what you can do to either reduce your risk for developing high blood pressure or lower your current numbers.

What do your numbers mean?

Sources: American Heart Association; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

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