High blood pressure affects all ages, with about half of all American adults at risk for major health problems because of high blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). 

What Is Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure is the force of the blood pushing against artery walls. When that force is too high, it causes the heart and vessels to work harder and can damage them.

Blood pressure is measured with two numbers. Systolic pressure (the top number on the reading) is the pressure in your vessels when your heart beats (or contracts). Diastolic pressure (the bottom number on the reading) is the pressure in your vessels when your heart is between beats (or relaxes). The measuring unit is millimeters of mercury, or mmHg.

What Is the Threshold for Hypertension?

In 2020, the AHA, the American College of Cardiology and several other leading medical groups issued new guidelines that lowered the threshold for a diagnosis of hypertension, or high blood pressure.

  • Blood pressure of 130/80 or above is high.
  • Blood pressure between 120/80 and 129/80 is elevated.

The updated guidelines help physicians and patients recognize and treat hypertension sooner.

High Blood Pressure Symptoms and Risks

The American Heart Association refers to high blood pressure as the “silent killer.” This is because you can’t feel when your blood pressure is high, and most of the time, you won’t show any symptoms. Hypertension can cause the arteries to become damaged, more easily clogged or susceptible to rupture. Two leading causes of death associated with hypertension are heart disease and stroke. Hypertension can also lead to heart failure. Hypertension is the second leading preventable cause of death, after smoking.

Monitoring Your Blood Pressure

Healthy individuals should check their blood pressure at least once a year. You can record your own blood pressure at most retail pharmacies with an electronic blood pressure monitor. Per the guidelines, it is important to take readings on two different occasions to diagnose hypertension. Blood pressure is also monitored by a nurse or your primary care provider.

Digital Care Monitoring

Digital Care Monitoring is a no-cost option offered by the Froedtert & MCW health network to patients who would benefit from the program. Using easy-to-understand technology, it helps you monitor your blood pressure and stay connected with us between your regular appointments.

Benefits of Digital Care Monitoring

Keeping track of your blood pressure readings is an important step in managing your hypertension and can help you avoid potentially dangerous complications. The program is confidential and uses technology you are familiar with, such as phone calls or text messages.

  • When you enroll, we will call or send you a text message a few times a week to collect your blood pressure readings. If your numbers are consistently outside of normal range, the Digital Care Monitoring team will be alerted so we can arrange the care you need. Please be aware that regular text messages are not a secure form of communication. By enrolling and choosing to receive information about your condition via text, you are accepting the risk that some protected health information could be acquired by someone other than you.

    Please note: Digital Care Monitoring should not be used for urgent matters. If you have an urgent or life-threatening emergency, call 911.

  • Your readings will be reviewed by our Digital Care Monitoring team and shared with your primary care physician if additional attention if needed. The Digital Care Monitoring team includes qualified health care professionals who will determine when to share your information with your primary care physician.

  • Contact your primary care physician to see if you would be a good candidate for Digital Care Monitoring for blood pressure.

Omron 3 Series cuffs blood pressure cuffs can be purchased in Froedtert Pharmacy locations. These cuffs report at-home blood pressure readings directly into your Epic electronic health record. Your care team reviews the readings and suggests interventions, if needed. Insurance coverage for these monitors varies by patient.

How to Prevent High Blood Pressure

Talk to your doctor about ways to keep your blood pressure in check. Lifestyle changes include:

  • A low-sodium diet
  • Cutting back on alcohol
  • Increasing exercise
  • Maintaining a healthy weight