High Blood Pressure Care

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a condition that can increase your risk of heart and vascular problems. We will work with you to create an individualized plan to control your blood pressure and improve your health.

How is Blood Pressure Measured?

Your blood pressure is comprised of two measurements.

  • Systolic pressure – Measures the force of blood against the artery walls when your heart beats. Ideally, this number is 120 or below.
  • Diastolic pressure – Measures the force of blood against the artery walls between heart beats. Ideally, this number is 80 or below.

120/80 is considered normal blood pressure. 130/80 or above is considered high blood pressure.

Medical Insight: New Blood Pressure Guidelines Video Transcript

SPEAKER: Welcome to Medical Insight, a weekly health care feature brought to you by the experts at Essentia Health. Here's your host, Maureen Talarico. MAUREEN TALARICO: Today on Medical Insight, Dr. Katie Bnezinger, an Essentia Health cardiologist, explains what you need to know about new blood pressure guidelines. KATIE BENZINGER: So high blood pressure is a disease we call hypertension and it is a silent disease. It generally doesn't cause any problems until you've had it for many, many years and it leads to damage of other organs. MAUREEN TALARICO: Dr. Benzinger says if left untreated, high blood pressure can affect the heart, kidneys, and brain. KATIE BENZINGER: At the end of 2017, the new American College of Cardiology American Heart Association guidelines for hypertension were released. And the biggest difference between prior guidelines was that they lowered the target. The old targets used to be 140 over 90, and now the new target is 130 over 80. This meant that approximately one in two Americans have high blood pressure. It used to be one in three Americans. And this is equivalent to approximately 31 million new people in America having high blood pressure, with about four million of those needing high blood pressure treatment now. The rest of them, really, the guidelines switched the focus on lifestyle changes. And those lifestyle changes are looking at making sure you're getting adequate physical activity, making sure that you're eating a healthy diet, making sure you're losing weight and maintaining a normal weight. And so the guidelines have shifted based on new evidence towards a more aggressive target and really focusing more on lifestyle. MAUREEN TALARICO: Dr. Benzinger says while there are medications to treat high blood pressure, they are generally a last resort. The goal is to get people to have a healthy lifestyle because that is more beneficial than medicine. She recommends talking to your doctor and knowing your blood pressure numbers. For Medical Insight, I'm Maureen Talarico. SPEAKER: To learn more about this topic, call our experts at 786-3107.

Text, Medical Insight, EssentiaHealth dot org. Essentia Health, here with you.

High Blood Pressure Risk Factors

High blood pressure usually doesn’t cause symptoms, but having it can increase your risk of heart attack, kidney failure, or stroke.

Risk factors include:

  • Men older than 45 and women older than 65 are more likely to have high blood pressure.
  • Being overweight
  • Chronic conditions like sleep apnea, diabetes, or kidney disease
  • Eating a diet high in salt and low in potassium and vitamin D can increase blood pressure.
  • Family history
  • Not getting enough exercise
  • Pregnancy
  • Stress
  • Using tobacco or drinking too much alcohol

How to Lower Your Blood Pressure

Work with our heart and vascular specialists to learn how to reduce your blood pressure. They will provide guidance, education, and support and may recommend the following:

  • Lifestyle changes
  • Procedures that can improve kidney function
  • Medications, including aspirin

Cardiology: Why doctors recommend aspirin for heart health Video Transcript


Blurry video of white pills falling into an open hand. The Essentia Health logo, consisting of three leaves in a circle, is at the bottom of the screen. Text, Why do doctors recommend aspirin for heart health? Essentia Health.

SPEAKER: Aspirin is our mainstay of treatment for preventing heart attacks and strokes. Aspirin has been around for many, many years and has been shown to reduce the risk of having another heart attack if you've already had one, and prevent a first heart attack. Aspirin is a medication that helps thin the blood. And when you thin the blood, it reduces the risk of forming clots in the blood vessels that provide oxygen to the heart, which is what causes heart attacks. So aspirin is recommended for people over the age of 50 who have never had a heart attack to prevent the first heart attack, especially in people who have other risk factors, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, or people who smoke cigarettes. It's also recommended for anyone who's had a prior heart attack or stroke to prevent another event.

Boxes of aspirin on a shelf. Pills fall into an open hand. An animation of red blood cells travelling rapidly through a cross section of a blood vessel. Aspirin bottles on a pharmacy shelf.

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