Hypertension is a huge issue, affecting more than 100 million adults in the United States. It can also lead to a host of other problems if it is left unchecked.

Simply put, blood pressure is the pressure your blood puts on the walls of your blood vessels as it circulates through the body. It is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm/Hg) and is recorded as one number over another.

As a refresher, the first number is the systolic pressure—the pressure when your heart beats. The second number is the diastolic pressure and is a measurement of pressure in between beats.

A good blood pressure would be below 120/80 mm Hg. When it goes above 130/80, you are considered stage 1 hypertensive. Stage 2 hypertension would be 140/90 and above.

For men, the bad news is they are more likely to be found hypertensive than women.

Gender—men are more likely to develop hypertension than women
Race—African-Americans have higher risk than other races
Age—the older you get the more likely you will develop high blood pressure
Family history—Dr. Hatch notes high blood pressure is twice as common in people with 1 or 2 hypertensive parents
Chronic kidney disease—people with chronic kidney disease are at a greater risk for high blood pressure.

With stage 1 hypertension, you can expect your doctor to recommend changing your diet, losing weight and exercise.

Once you’ve been diagnosed with stage 2 hypertension, your doctor will recommend lifestyle changes and medication. Some of the medications your doctor may consider include diuretics, calcium channel blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs).

In some cases where the patient has certain diseases, a doctor will automatically prescribe medications. It is critical that you get your blood pressure under control.For men who have had years of uncontrolled high blood pressure, the risk for stroke increases.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, someone suffers from a stroke every 40 seconds in the United States. The CDC also reports that someone dies from a stroke almost every 4 minutes.

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