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High Blood Pressure Public History

Health Topic Groups: Seniors, Blood, Heart and Circulation

Medical Subject Headings (MeSH): Hypertension, Prehypertension

Blood pressure is the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your arteries. Each time your heart beats, it pumps out blood into the arteries. Your blood pressure is highest when your heart beats, pumping the blood. This is called systolic pressure. When your heart is at rest, between beats, your blood pressure falls. This is the diastolic pressure.

Your blood pressure reading uses these two numbers, the systolic and diastolic pressures. Usually they are written one above or before the other. A reading of

  • 120/80 or lower is normal blood pressure
  • 140/90 or higher is high blood pressure
  • Between 120 and 139 for the top number, or between 80 and 89 for the bottom number is prehypertension

High blood pressure usually has no symptoms, but it can cause serious problems such as stroke, heart failure, heart attack and kidney failure. You can control high blood pressure through healthy lifestyle habits and taking medicines, if needed.

NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

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