Harvard Heart Letter

Why blood pressure matters so much

Symptomatically silent, it's often the first step toward a stroke or heart attack.

Blood pressure — your doctor routinely checks it because high blood pressure can contribute to strokes, heart attacks, heart failure, and other serious illnesses.

About 76 million adult Americans have high blood pressure, or hypertension. That means they have a top (systolic) number of 140 or higher or a bottom (diastolic) number of 90 or higher. Most of them don't have their blood pressure under control.

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