Nearly one-third of people who have high blood pressure do not know it. High blood pressure is dangerous because there are often no symptoms, which means you may not know if it gets worse.

Blood pressure measures the force of blood against the walls of the arteries and is recorded as two numbers, for example “120 over 80.” The first, or top, number (systolic pressure) is the force at the time the heart beats. The second, or bottom, number (diastolic pressure) is the force between beats.

It’s important to…

Know what your blood pressure usually is.

Ask your doctor at your next office visit and discuss any results of checking your blood pressure at home. Set a blood pressure goal and ask how to reach and maintain it.

Control your blood pressure.

Taking your medication exactly as prescribed without skipping doses is critical. This means filling and picking up your medications on time, and talking to your doctor about any side effects you have. When you feel good, it may be tempting to skip doses, but remember: You feel good because the medication is working.

See your doctor every six months or at least once a year to discuss your blood pressure.