What is hypertension?

Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of arteries, and hypertension is having higher blood pressure than normal. Hypertension usually develops gradually over time with no identifiable cause, but lifestyle choices can influence the risk. If blood pressure is consistently higher than normal, it can lead to health risk problems such as heart disease, a heart attack, or a stroke.


What are the symptoms of hypertension?

High blood pressure is known as the “silent killer;” it is hard to know if your blood pressure is high since there are usually no warning signs. The only way to detect hypertension is to know your numbers. Normal blood pressure level is less than 120/80 mmHg, and hypertension range is 140/90 mmHg or higher. This can vary with underlying conditions such as diabetes when blood pressure is optimal at lower numbers. Your healthcare team can diagnose high blood pressure and make treatment suggestions based off your numbers.

High blood pressure tends to run in families. A family history of high blood pressure is a risk factor for you developing high blood pressure and having one or more close family member with high blood pressure before the age of 60 doubles your risk of developing hypertension.

How can I lower my blood pressure?

Many people with hypertension can lower their blood pressure numbers by making shifts in their lifestyle choices, including:

  • Getting at least 2 and a half hours of physical activity each week (that’s just over 20 minutes a day!)
  • Managing stress
  • Not smoking
  • Eating a healthy diet, including limiting sodium (salt) and alcohol
  • Keeping a healthy weight for your body type
  • Getting enough sleep

Some people may also require medication to manage their blood pressure. Please discuss all prescription medications with your doctor

Organizational and community support

  • The Heart and Stroke foundation promotes May Measurement Month to encourage Canadians to know their numbers. They also offer a free six-month wellness program for people at risk for developing hypertension.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers a Hypertension Communication Kit to share with your friends, family and community to generate awareness.
  • Hypertension.ca promotes the “What’s Your Number?” campaign In May and offers several educational programs, resources, and additional information.

Time to act!

Heart disease is the second leading cause of death in Canada. Early detection and management of medical conditions, including high blood pressure, is key to reducing the risk of heart disease.

Know your numbers and help spread the word about hypertension. Knowledge is power and these health indicators can help you prioritize areas for improvement.

Get started by scheduling a Proactive Health Assessment to get a complete snapshot of your current health.