What do the blood pressure numbers mean?

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From The Rx Patient Connection

Q: What do the blood pressure numbers mean?

A: Blood pressure has 2 measurements. The first number is the “systolic” pressure, which occurs as the heart pumps blood into the arteries throughout your body. The second measurement is “diastolic” pressure – it occurs as the heart rests between beats. The 2 forces are each represented by numbers in a blood pressure “reading” with systolic pressure on top and diastolic pressure on the bottom (eg, 120/80). Blood pressure is currently classified as follows:

• Normal blood pressure: less than 120/80
• Elevated blood pressure: 120-129/ less than 80
• Stage 1 hypertension: 130-139/80-89
• Stage 2 hypertension: 140/90 or greater

People with elevated blood pressure are likely to develop hypertension unless steps are taken to control it. For stage 1 hypertension, healthcare providers are likely to prescribe lifestyle changes and may consider adding blood pressure medication based on your overall risk for cardiovascular disease (eg, heart attack or stroke). For stage 2 hypertension, when blood pressure is consistently measuring at levels of 140/90 or higher, healthcare providers are likely to prescribe a combination of blood pressure lowering medications along with lifestyle changes.

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