By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Do you have high blood pressure? Do you even know if you have high blood pressure? These are two very important questions.

Let’s start with the second. Many people do not realize it, but high blood pressure is a silent condition. It’s quite possible you have elevations in pressure you don’t even know that you do. That’s why I asked the first question.

If you have high blood pressure and don’t know it, you could be putting yourself at risk for a heart attack and stroke, or a condition called heart failure. In heart failure, the heart muscle has difficulty pumping blood throughout the body. Heart failure can be caused by years of wear and tear caused by the heart pushing against that greater blood pressure.

The important point to remember now is you can control pressure and offset or prevent that long-term damage. That’s why it’s important to control the blood pressure and to do it on a regular basis.