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Ask the Expert: High blood pressure

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ Stephen Blonsky, M.D.
Stephen Blonsky, M.D.​​​​
Nephrologist
Sees patients at Marshfield Clinic locations in Wausau, Weston and Merrill.

​Question: Why is high blood pressure called the “silent killer?”​

High blood pressure, left untreated, can lead to strokes, congestive heart failure, kidney disease and heart attacks.
Yet it usually causes no symptoms and people are unaware that they have it.

Everyone should have their blood pressure monitored regularly, especially if you have a family history of high blood pressure.​​​

Blood pressure is always measured with two numbers, with the first or top number being the systolic pressure (when the heart is beating) and the second or bottom number being diastolic pressure (resting between beats).

Optimal blood pressure is 120/80 or less, and high-normal ranges from 130-139/85-89. Anything above 140-159/90-99 is of major concern.

We cannot cure high blood pressure but we can usually control it with lifestyle changes and medications. Talk to your doctor and:

  • Lose weight if you’re overweight
  • Get regular exercise
  • Avoid excess alcohol
  • Stop smoking
  • Manage stress
  • Decrease salt intake
  • Eat heart healthy foods

Marshfield Clinic provides Nephrology specialties​ in a number of our centers. Your primary care doctor can refer you to the appropriate specialty and location​.