Your Blood Pressure Stats

March 21, 2017

What is blood pressure?

When your heart beats, it pumps blood into your arteries. Arteries are blood vessels that carry blood to the body. Blood pressure is the force of the blood pushing against the walls of the arteries.

Why should I have my blood pressure measured?

You can't tell if you have high blood pressure without measuring it because it has no symptoms. Over time, high blood pressure can damage your arteries, heart and other areas of the body. Knowing your blood pressure can help you take steps to control it if it is too high. High blood pressure is also called hypertension.

How is blood pressure measured?

The blood pressure test is painless. A rubber cuff is wrapped around your arm and inflated. That pushes down on an artery in your arm and temporarily stops the flow of blood. Your health care provider or a medical assistant uses a stethoscope to measure your blood pressure when the cuff is relaxed.

How often should my blood pressure be checked?

If your blood pressure is normal, you should have your blood pressure checked every one to two years. If you have either pre-hypertension or high blood pressure, you will need to have your blood pressure checked more often. Pre-hypertension means your blood pressure is higher than normal but not high enough to be called hypertension. Talk to your health care provider about how often to have your blood pressure checked.

What do my blood pressure numbers mean?

Blood pressure is reported as two numbers. The first number is the force of your blood against the artery walls when your heart muscle contracts. This is called systolic pressure. It shows how well your heart pumps. The second number is the pressure between heartbeats when the heart muscle is relaxed. This is called diastolic pressure. It is an indirect measure of how elastic your arteries are. The first number is always higher than the second number.

  • Optimal blood pressure is less than 120 over 80 (also written as 120/80)

  • Prehypertension (at risk for developing high blood pressure) is a systolic pressure of 120 to 139 OR a diastolic pressure of  80 to 89

  • Stage 1 high blood pressure is a systolic pressure of 140 to 159 OR a diastolic pressure of 90 to 99

  • Stage 2 high blood pressure is a systolic pressure of 160 or higher OR a diastolic pressure of 100 or higher

What should I do if my numbers are out of range?

If your blood pressure is in the prehypertension or high blood pressure range, talk to your health care provider about how to lower it. Diet and lifestyle changes may be enough to control mildly elevated blood pressure. Your provider may also prescribe blood pressure medication, as well as lifestyle changes, if your blood pressure is moderately to greatly elevated. Here are some lifestyle changes your provider may suggest:

  • quit smoking;

  • lose weight if you are overweight;

  • begin regular exercise;

  • learn to cope with stress;

  • limit how much salt you eat.


March 21, 2017

Reviewed By:  

Carolyn BrownCarolyn Brown RN MN CCRN CNS,Godsey, Cynthia M.S., M.S.N., APRN,Lambert, J.G. M.D.