Understanding Blood Pressure

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), nearly one out of three adults has high blood pressure or hypertension. Commonly high blood pressure is referred to as a “silent killer” because it often can present with no warning signs or symptoms. The only way to know you have high blood pressure is to measure your blood pressure regularly at your doctor’s office, local pharmacy, or at home with a blood pressure monitor (sphygmomanometer).

What is blood pressure (BP)?

Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of your arteries, which carry blood from your heart to other parts of your body. Blood pressure normally ranges throughout the day however if it stays high for a long time it can damage your heart and lead to health problems. High blood pressure increases the workload of the heart and blood vessels making them work harder and less efficiently.
Ex: 120 (systolic BP) - is the pressure your blood is exerting against artery walls when heart beats
80 (diastolic BP) - is the pressure your blood is exerting against artery walls while heart is resting

Correct way to measure your blood pressure:

  • Avoid smoking or caffeine intake 30 minutes before measurement.
  • Patient should be seated on a chair with back and arm supported, both feet on the floor.
  • Rest your arm on a table so the blood pressure cuff is at about the same height as your heart.
  • Begin blood pressure measurement after 5 minutes of rest.

Common complications of high blood pressure?

  • Atherosclerosis -is a disease in which plaque builds inside your arteries.
  • Possible heart attack – blood flow to the heart is blocked.
  • Stroke – when poor blood flow to the brain results in cell death.
  • Peripheral vascular disease – circulatory problem in which narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to your limbs.
  • Heart failure- muscle in the heart wall can slowly weaken and lose its ability to pump blood.

High blood pressure can be treated with lifestyle changes (maintaining healthy weight, eating a healthy diet, reducing saturated fat in the diet) and prescription medications.

What category does your blood pressure readings fall into?

Blood PressureCategory Systolic
mm Hg (upper #)
mm Hg (lower #)
Normal less than 120 and less than 80
Prehypertension 120 – 139 or 80 – 89
High Blood Pressure
(Hypertension) Stage 1
140 – 159 or 90 – 99
High Blood Pressure
(Hypertension) Stage 2
160 or higher or 100 or higher
Hypertensive Crisis
(Emergency care needed)
Higher than 180 or Higher than 110