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:
||Stage 1 Hypertension
||Stage 2 Hypertension
|Blood pressure of 120 over 80 is normal
||Blood pressure between 120 and 129 over 80 is elevated
||Blood pressure 130 over 80 to 139 over 89 is considered stage 1 hypertension
||Blood pressure that is anything 140 over 90 or above is considered stage 2 hypertension
*Note: Blood pressure that reaches 180 over 120 or higher is considered hypertensive crisis and requires immediate treatment or hospitalization.
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.