Hypertension, also known as the "silent killer," is a common ailment that affects more than 65 million Americans. Many individuals with high blood pressure do not know they have hypertension until it is discovered during a routine medical examination. Few experience any symptoms, however when symptoms do occur they may include headache, dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pain or altered vision. Untreated, high blood pressure can lead to many serious conditions such as heart disease, stroke and kidney failure.
Blood pressure is the force of a pump (the heart) squeezing fluid (blood) against a fixed resistance (the diameter of the blood vessels). This value is measured with a blood pressure cuff. The cuff is placed around the upper arm and then inflated with air. Your physician will then place a stethoscope on your upper arm and deflate the cuff. When they hear your heart beat he/she will record that number (the "systolic" blood pressure -- the "top number") and when your heart beat sound disappears, he/she records that number (the "diastolic" blood pressure -- the "bottom number").