DES MOINES, Iowa — It’s called the “silent killer,” but Wednesday, the goal is to talk about it. World Hypertension Day is dedicated to the importance of monitoring blood pressure.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hypertension is the number one risk factor for heart disease, stroke, renal complications, and premature death.

UnityPoint Health nurse practitioner Janae Brown said most people don’t feel symptoms until they have that heart attack or stroke.

That doesn’t mean it can’t be caught and managed.

Brown said everyone should get their blood pressure taken at least once per year at their annual physical. People who are at higher risk should get it taken more often.

She said there is good news. Hypertension is treatable. People can usually bring their blood pressure down through diet and exercise. If that doesn’t work, medicine can usually help.

The most important thing, however, is people take hypertension and its associated risks seriously. It could save their lives.

“It’s the ‘silent killer,’ so there’s so many people out there that have high blood pressure that aren’t being treated and we could save down the road,” Brown said.

She said people diagnosed with hypertension should monitor their blood pressure regularly at home.

According to the CDC, high blood pressure is defined as a systolic blood pressure consistently above 140 mm Hg and/or diastolic blood pressure consistently above 90 mm Hg.