Questions About Blood Pressure

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Blood Pressure 01What Is Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure is given as two numbers that measure the force of blood against the walls of your arteries. The top number (systolic) is the pressure of blood while your heart is beating. The bottom number (diastolic) is the pressure while your heart is at rest. A blood pressure of 120/80 is read as “120 over 80.”

What Is High Blood Pressure?

Anything above 120/80 is considered high blood pressure or hypertension. High blood pressure usually has no warning signs so it is important to have your blood pressure checked regularly.

Why Is It a problem?

It is estimated that one in four adults in the U.S. has high blood pressure. As many as one-third of these many not even realize they have it. High blood pressure can lead to heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, and impaired vision.

How Can I Prevent or Control It?

  • Have your blood pressure checked regularly.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Follow a healthful diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Limit caffeine and alcohol.
  • Take medications as directed by your physician.
  • Control your stress.

Where Can I Learn More?

Visit the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute at  or the American Heart Association at