What is blood pressure? Blood pressure is the force of blood pressing against the walls of the arteries, like the pressure of water in a garden hose.
What do the numbers mean? Blood pressure is expressed as 2 numbers: systolic over diastolic (for example, 120 over 80 or 120/80). Here's how the National Institutes of Health (NIH) describes the categories of blood pressure:
|Borderline High Blood Pressure
||High Blood Pressure
|Less than 120 systolic and less than 80 diastolic
||120 to 139 systolic OR 80-89 diastolic. May require aggressive lifestyle changes.
||140 systolic or higher OR 90 diastolic or higher. May require one or more medications to achieve goal blood pressure.
Do you know your numbers? Your blood pressure should be checked at least every 2 to 3 years if it is a normal range and yearly if it is elevated. If you know that your numbers are in the borderline high blood pressure or high blood pressure range, you need to see your provider soon. High blood pressure has no real symptoms, but causes real damage to your heart and kidneys when not managed.