Blood pressure is the pressure of blood pushing against the walls of your arteries. Arteries carry blood from your heart to other parts of your body.
Blood pressure normally rises and falls throughout the day, but it can damage your heart and cause health problems if it stays high for a long time. Hypertension, also called high blood pressure, is blood pressure that is higher than normal.
Uncontrolled high blood pressure is the second leading cause of kidney failure in the US. Severe high blood pressure can harm kidney function over a relatively short period of time. Even mild forms of high blood pressure can damage kidneys over several years.
Blood pressure – fast facts
- The top number in a blood pressure measurement is called the systolic pressure. This measures the force of blood against the walls of the arteries when the heart is pumping. The lower number is called the diastolic pressure. This measures the force of the blood when the heart is between beats. Both numbers are important and need to be controlled.
- In 2017, the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association published new guidelines for hypertension management and defined high hypertension as a blood pressure at or above 130/80 mm Hg. Stage 2 hypertension is defined as a blood pressure at or above 140/90 mm Hg
- Nearly half of all adults in the US (108 million or 45% of the population) have high blood pressure
- Only about 1 out of every 4 people with high blood pressure (24%) have their condition under control
High blood pressure causes kidney damage
High blood pressure can constrict and narrow the blood vessels in your kidneys, which reduces blood flow and stops the kidneys from working well. When this happens, the kidneys are not able to remove all wastes and extra fluid from your body. Extra fluid in the blood vessels can raise your blood pressure even more, creating a dangerous cycle, and cause more damage leading to kidney failure.
- More than 1 in 7 adults in the US, or about 37 million people, may have chronic kidney disease (CKD)
- High blood pressure is the second leading cause of kidney failure in the US after diabetes
- Approximately 1 in 5 adults (20%) in the US with high blood pressure may have CKD
- Although Black or African American people make up about 13 percent of the population, they account for 35 percent of the people with kidney failure in the United States. These numbers are concerning and reflect some of the nonmedical reasons for the increased rates of high blood pressure in communities of color, which include where someone lives and works, the foods they eat, how much exercise they do, and if they are able to get the medical care they need.
- High blood pressure and the early stages of CKD usually does not cause any physical symptoms, which is an important reason to have regular blood pressure screenings
- Following a healthy diet and taking medicine for high blood pressure may keep CKD from getting worse and may prevent other health problems such as heart disease