Synonyms: High blood pressure

Medical Specialties: Cardiology, Emergency medicine, Family practice

Clinical Definition

Hypertension is elevated pressure or tension on the arterial walls during systemic circulation. Increased force on the arterial walls can occur during the contractions of the myocardium, which is known as systolic pressure, and/or during rest, which is diastolic pressure. Although hypertension can be transient, a diagnosis of hypertension usually refers to a sustained increases in pressure. Hypertension is considered a risk factor for a myocardial infarction and a cerebral vascular accident. 

In Our Own Words

Hypertension is high blood pressure. A diagnosis of hypertension may involve recording elevated blood pressure levels on separate occasions, to be certain.  Blood pressure is the force at which blood pushes against the arteries, and when elevated pressures are a daily fact of life, and not just an isolated stress response, there can be serious health repercussions.  


Blood pressure reading consists of two measurements. The top number is recorded as the heart squeezes to move blood into the arteries (systolic). The bottom number is measured when the ventricles are relaxed, between beats (diastolic). A typical healthy blood pressure is not greater than 120 (systolic)/80 (diastolic).


Hypertension causes the heart to work harder and is a risk factor for a stroke and heart attack. Blood pressure can also be lower than normal. When this occurs it is called hypotension.  

Relevant Conditions
Common Types
  • White coat hypertension
  • Essential hypertension
Share this article
  • Cleveland Clinic. "Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)." http://my.clevelandclinic.org.aspx. Accessed October 2013.
  • University of Maryland Medical Center. "Hypertension." http://umm.edu. Accessed October 2013.
  • American Heart Association. "What is High Blood Pressure?" http://www.heart.org. Accessed October 2013.
Keep Reading

Investigate your bodys signs and signals.
Try Symptom Checker