Kim Malsam-Rysdon, Secretary of Health

High Blood PressureBlood Pressure Numbers

Blood pressure is simply defined as the force of the blood pushing against the sides of your arteries. Two numbers represent blood pressure. The systolic (top) number shows the pressure while the heart is beating. The diastolic (bottom) number shows the pressure when the heart is resting between beats. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is defined as having a blood pressure that is higher than 130 mm Hg systolic (top number) or higher than 80 mm Hg diastolic (bottom number), on three separate readings, recorded several weeks apart. It is important to remember that although someone may be taking medication to treat and control their high blood pressure, they still have the disease, it is simply considered, “controlled with medication.”

Having high blood pressure significantly increases someone’s risk for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.

Make sure you get an accurate blood pressure measurement every time. Watch the video below to see the correct way a blood pressure should be taken and how incorrect technique can affect your reading.

Risk Factors for High Blood Pressure

  • People with a family history of high blood pressure
  • African Americans
  • People 35 years of age or older
  • People who are overweight or obese
  • People who smoke
  • People who have too much salt in their diet
  • People who drink too much alcohol
  • Women who use birth control pills
  • People who aren’t physically active
  • Pregnant women

See your healthcare provider for a blood pressure screening and to assess your risk for heart disease and stroke.


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