Blood Pressure Screening

What's an Ideal Blood Pressure Reading?

  • A reading of 120/80 or lower is considered normal.
  • A reading between 122/82 and 139/89 is pre-hypertension (pre-high blood pressure).
  • A reading of 140/90 or higher is hypertension (high blood pressure).

What Does a Blood Pressure Reading Tell You?

A reading of your blood pressure measures what happens when your heart beats and the walls of your blood vessels contract to move blood throughout your body. A high reading indicates your body is working harder than it should and there is less room in your blood vessels.

The top number in a blood pressure reading (120/80, for example) is the systolic pressure. This is the measurement when your blood vessel walls contract (squeeze).

The bottom number is the diastolic pressure. This is the measurement when the blood vessel walls relax between heartbeats.

Your blood pressure isn't a fixed number. It varies depending on your activity level, stress and other factors.

What Are the Symptoms of High Blood Pressure?

You don't always notice signs of high blood pressure. It's important to have regular blood pressure checks to make sure yours is normal.

When symptoms do happen, they can include:

  • Persistent headache.
  • Dizziness.
  • Fatigue.
  • Tension.
  • Chest pain.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Shortness of breath.

See your doctor if you have any of these symptoms.

How to Reduce Your Blood Pressure

  • Stop smoking.
  • Lose excess weight.
  • Exercise at least three times a week.
  • Limit your salt intake.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all.
  • Follow a low-fat, reduced-calorie diet.
  • Keep your diabetes, if you have the condition, under control. You're at higher risk for high blood pressure if you have diabetes.
  • Decrease stress in your life.
  • Avoid over-the-counter medications that can raise your blood pressure, such as antihistamines.
  • Control your sleep apnea, if you have this condition. It can contribute to high blood pressure. Talk to your doctor about treatments.
  • Take all prescribed medications as directed.
  • Work with your doctor to determine the best treatment for you. You may be able to reduce your blood pressure with lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, or you may need to take prescription medication for a while or forever.

You can't control every risk factor for high blood pressure. The below factors put you at higher risk but aren't controllable. But be aware of them, and talk to your doctor if you have concerns about your blood pressure.

  • Are African-American.
  • Have a family history of high blood pressure.
  • Have kidney disease.