What is high blood pressure? What is normal blood pressure?
- High blood pressure (hypertension) is defined as high pressure (tension) in the arteries, which are the vessels that carry blood from the heart to the rest of the body.
- Blood pressure readings are given as two numbers:
- The systolic blood pressure (the top number) equals the pressure in the arteries as the heart contracts.
- The diastolic pressure (the bottom number) is the pressure in the arteries as the heart relaxes.
- Normal blood pressure is below 120/80.
- In 2017, the American College of Cardiology released new guidelines for high blood pressure.
- Blood pressure between 120/80 and 129/80 is elevated blood pressure, and a blood pressure of 130/80 or above is considered high.
- The American Academy of Cardiology defines blood pressure ranges as:
- Hypertension stage 1 is 130-139 or 80-89 mm Hg, and hypertension stage 2 is 140 or higher, or 90 mm Hg or higher.
- Complications of high blood pressure include heart disease, kidney (renal) disease, hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis or arteriosclerosis), eye damage, and stroke (brain damage).
- Hypertension is a major public health problem. With the new guidelines for defining high blood presure, The American Heart Association estimates high blood pressure affects nearly half of all adults (46%) in the United States.
High Blood Pressure Treatment
Other dietary considerations
It is beneficial to add potassium to the diet. Studies show that people who consume more potassium have lower blood pressures. Good sources of potassium include:
- spinach and
Along with lowering salt in the diet, a balanced eating plan that also reduces cholesterol intake and fatty foods is recommended. The TLC Diet (Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes) often is recommended to lower blood cholesterol.Learn more about high blood pressure treatment »
What do blood pressure readings mean? (blood pressure readings chart)
Blood pressure readings can vary in a single person throughout the day depending on the situation. Factors such as stress, anxiety, foods eaten (caffeine or salt intake), smoking, or exercise can cause pressure to rise.
The American Heart Association defines a normal blood pressure as less than 120/80. Elevated blood pressure ranges between 120/80 and 129/80, and high blood pressure is 130/80 and higher. In pregnancy normal blood pressure should be below 120/80.
If your blood pressure reaches into the high range, you should see your doctor about lifestyle changes, and possibly medication especially if you have other risk factors, such as diabetes or heart disease.
High blood pressure (for example, 180/110 or higher) may indicate an emergency situation. If this high blood pressure is associated with chest pain, shortness of breath, headache, dizziness, or back or abdominal pain, seek medical care immediately. If you are experiencing no associated symptoms with a high blood pressure reading such as this, re-check it again within a few minutes and contact your doctor or go to an emergency room if it is still high.
If your blood pressure is lower than about 100/60 you may have low blood pressure, depending on the associated symptoms. If you are unsure, check with your doctor.