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High Blood Pressure

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. When your heart is at rest, between beats, your blood pressure falls. High blood pressure is also known as hypertension.

About 1 out of 3 adults in the United States has high blood pressure.

High blood pressure usually has no symptoms, but it can cause serious problems such as stroke, heart failure, heart attack, and kidney failure.

Know Your Numbers

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

  • Top Number: Systolic (mm/Hg) is the pressure or force in the arteries when the heart beats.
  • Bottom Number:  Diastolic (mm/Hg)  is the pressure measured between heartbeats.




Normal blood pressure

Below 120

Below 80



Below 80

High blood pressure- Stage 1



High blood pressure- Stage 2 140 and above 90 and above 


How Can I Control My Blood Pressure?

Make control your goal! Work with your provider to make a plan for controlling your blood pressure and follow their guidelines, which may include:

  • Know your blood pressure goal and your numbers.  Together, you and your provider can set a goal and discuss whether home blood pressure monitoring is appropriate for you. 
  • Eat a healthy diet. Eat more fruits and vegetables and choose foods low in sodium. African Americans as well as adults aged 51 years and older and people with high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease should consume only 1,500 mg of sodium per day.
  • Manage your stress. Stress is a normal part of every life and can be helpful to motivate us to do our best. When stress becomes overwhelming it can damage our mood and our emotions and it can have a bad effect on our health.
  • Get moving. Staying physically active will help you control your weight and strengthen your heart. Try walking for 10 minutes, 3 times a day, at least 5 days a week. This will give you a total of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity.
  • Take your medications. If you have high blood pressure, your provider may give you medicine to help control it. It’s important to follow your provider’s instructions when taking the medication. Tell your provider if the medicine makes you feel bad. Your provider can talk with you about different ways to reduce side effects or recommend another medicine that may have fewer side effects.