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High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure (hypertension) is a leading cause of heart disease and stroke, which together kill more New Yorkers than any other disease. Blood pressure is the force of blood moving through your blood vessels. The higher it is, the more damage it can do to the inside of your blood vessels. High blood pressure can also lead to problems with your kidneys and eyes and to sexual dysfunction.

More than one in four New Yorkers has high blood pressure, but there are usually no symptoms. In 2022, self-reported high blood pressure was more common among Black and Latino adults than among White or Asian adults in New York City. Structural racism, which can affect the social, economic and environmental conditions that influence health, contributes to this disproportionate burden of disease.

Everyone should know their blood pressure. You can get it checked by asking your health care provider, visiting a pharmacy or blood pressure kiosk or checking it yourself using a home monitor.

Follow these tips to make sure you get the right blood pressure measurement every time (PDF).
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Understanding Your Blood Pressure Numbers

Blood pressure is reported with two numbers, one written over the other. The top number, systolic blood pressure, reflects the amount of pressure in your arteries when your heart squeezes to pump blood. The bottom number, diastolic blood pressure, reflects the amount of pressure in your arteries when your heart relaxes between heartbeats.

To learn more about blood pressure numbers, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s High Blood Pressure site.

How to Maintain a Healthy Blood Pressure

Heart-Healthy Diet

There are many steps you can take to make your diet more heart healthy:

For more information on sticking to a heart-healthy diet:

Be Active

Get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity (such as a brisk walk) each week. Do muscle-strengthening activities (such as weightlifting or push-ups) at least 2 days a week.

You can find opportunities for physical activity through NYC Parks, such as free Shape Up NYC classes. Some parks have outdoor fitness equipment for adults. There are also indoor recreation center memberships available, including discounts for seniors ages 62 and older, veterans, young adults, youth and people with disabilities.

If you're older than 60, you can find heart healthy activities at a nearby older adult center.

For more exercise tips:

Treat Tobacco Use

If you smoke, quitting smoking is an important way to reduce your risk of heart disease. If you’re not ready to quit, treatment options are still available to help you cut back gradually or avoid smoking when you want to (like at home, work or around friends). Visit NYC Quits to learn more and find resources to help you reach your smoking goals.

If You Have Been Diagnosed with High Blood Pressure

Monitor Your Blood Pressure

Monitoring your blood pressure in between office visits can be an important part of your treatment and care. Talk to your health care provider about how often you should check your blood pressure. Find a free blood pressure kiosk at a pharmacy near you.

There are different kinds of blood pressure monitors. Most people prefer “automated” monitors that only require you to push a button after you put the cuff on your arm. You can buy these at pharmacies. Your health insurance may cover the cost if you are prescribed a monitor.

Take Your Medicine as Prescribed

If your health care provider prescribes medicine, take it as directed. Even if your numbers get better, it is important to keep taking your medicine so your numbers stay that way.

If you have trouble taking your medicine as prescribed, talk with your health care provider or pharmacist about options.

For help managing your medicine:

Additional Resources

More Information