Hypertension is the technical term for high blood pressure, a condition that affects millions of people around the world - left untreated hypertension can cause serious and irreversible damage. Blood pressure is the force of blood against the walls of arteries. Blood pressure is recorded as two numbers - the systolic pressure (as the heart beats) over the diastolic pressure (as the heart relaxes between beats). The measurement is written one above or before the other, with the systolic number on top and the diastolic number on the bottom. For example, a blood pressure measurement of 120/80 mmHg (millimeters of mercury) is expressed verbally as "120 over 80."
Normal blood pressure is less than 120 mmHg systolic and less than 80 mmHg diastolic.
Hypertension is known as a silent killer because often people have no symptoms and are unaware that their blood pressure is too high - almost one third of people with high blood pressure do not know that they have it and anyone, including children, can develop high blood pressure.
Hypertension is a major problem because over a period of time, raised blood pressure can cause gradual damage to many organs in the body - damage which can be serious and irreversible - if left untreated, high blood pressure can cause many different types of cardiovascular disease, blood clot or aneurysm (a swollen, or burst, blood vessel) and can also result in damage to the eyes, to kidney disease and kidney failure.
Hypertension is one of the main causes of stroke, heart disease, and kidney failure and it is essential that high blood pressure is detected and kept in check and the earlier the age at which it is detected and treated, the less the likelihood of damage. Older people especially should have their blood pressure measured regularly and treated if it is too high - it is estimated that about 90% of middle–aged adults will develop high blood pressure in the remainder of their lifetime.