Take The Mystery Out Of Blood Pressure

What is Blood Pressure? 

Blood pressure is the force of the blood pushing against the walls of the arteries. Unless otherwise noted, blood pressure refers to systemic arterial blood pressure. Systemic arterial blood pressure is the pressure in the large arteries that deliver blood to any body parts other than the lungs. Blood pressure values are universally stated in millimeters of mercury or mmHg.

Blood pressure is always represented as a combination of two numbers, the systolic and the diastolic. The systolic is the pressure when the heart beats, or pumps blood. The diastolic is the pressure between heart beats, or when the heart rests.


What is Normal Blood Pressure?

It is normal for blood pressure to change substantially, numerous times a day. It is lowest as you sleep and rises when you get up. It can also rise when you are excited, nervous, or physically active. Still, for most of your waking hours, your blood pressure stays pretty much the same when you are sitting or standing still. If you have not yet been diagnosed with hypertension, or some other serious health condition, you do not need to be concerned about your blood pressure during sporadic situations. Your doctor will take your blood pressure while you are calm and remaining still. This blood pressure will most accurately reflect what your pressure is during the average of your day. Some patients become nervous when their blood pressure is taken at the doctors office, causing readings to increase. This condition is commonly referred to as white coat hypertension, or white coat syndrom. Taking blood pressure readings at home, with a machine, may help to determine a persons true range of blood pressure readings. Normal blood pressure in an adult is typically 120/80 mmHg.


What Should You Do if You Have High Blood Pressure?

Higher blood pressure causes your heart to work harder, and your arteries take a beating, which increases your chance of a stroke, heart attack, or kidney problems. If you have high blood pressure you should consult your physician immediately.

There are four categories used to classify blood pressure in adults, normal, pre-hypertension, stage 1 hypertension, and stage 2 hypertension. There really should be a fifth, sub-normal, but you never see it listed anywhere. If your blood pressure is sub-normal, you will be falling in and out of consciousness.

·         Normal is just like it sounds, you do not have high blood pressure. You should use exercise and diet to maintain a healthy pressure.

·         Pre-hypertension is somewhat deceptive. Although you do not have hypertension, you do have high blood pressure. With Pre-hypertension you should use exercise and diet to try to lower your pressure.

·         Stage 1 Hypertension means that you are at risk of heart attack and stroke. With Stage 1 Hypertension, like Pre-hypertension, you should try to lower your pressure through exercise and diet. If after 6 months, your pressure still falls in the Stage 1 category, one or more prescription medications should be used to lower the pressure.

·         Stage 2 Hypertension means that your blood pressure is out of control. You may even be hospitalized and monitored, until the pressure can be lowered. Stage 2 Hypertension usually requires a minimum of two prescription medications to lower the pressure to acceptable levels. You will also need to use exercise and diet to keep the pressure from coming back, and to maximize the effects of the medication.




Below is a chart that shows the different categories, and the blood pressure ranges for each.


Categories for Blood Pressure Levels in Adults – in mmHg 












90 – 120



50 – 80





120 – 139


80 – 89


Stage 1 Hypertension



140 – 159


90 – 99


Stage 2 Hypertension



160 or Higher


100 or Higher


Note: When systolic and diastolic blood pressures fall into different categories, the higher category should be used to classify blood pressure level. For example, 160/80, or 150/100 would be stage 2 high blood pressure.

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