Normal blood pressure is important for proper blood flow to the body’s organs and tissues. The force of the blood on the walls of the arteries is called blood pressure.
Blood pressure is measured both as the heart contracts, which is called systole, and as it relaxes, which is called diastole. Normal blood pressure is considered to be a systolic blood pressure of 115 millimeters of mercury a diastolic pressure of 70 millimeters of mercury (stated as “115 over 70”).
If an individual were to have a consistent blood pressure reading of 140 over 90, he would be evaluated for having high blood pressure. If left untreated, high blood pressure can damage important organs, such as the brain and kidneys, as well as lead to a stroke.
High blood pressure is a common disease in which blood flows through blood vessels (arteries) at higher than normal pressures.
Measuring Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps blood. High blood pressure, sometimes called hypertension, happens when this force is too high. Health care workers check blood pressure readings the same way for children, teens, and adults. They use a gauge, stethoscope or electronic sensor, and a blood pressure cuff. With this equipment, they measure:
Systolic Pressure: blood pressure when the heart beats while pumping blood
Diastolic Pressure: blood pressure when the heart is at rest between beats
Health care workers write blood pressure numbers with the systolic number above the diastolic number. For example:
People read “118 over 76” millimeters of mercury.
Normal Blood Pressure: Normal blood pressure for adults is defined as a systolic pressure below 120 mmHg and a diastolic pressure below 80 mmHg. It is normal for blood pressures to change when you sleep, wake up, or are excited or nervous. When you are active, it is normal for your blood pressure to increase. However, once the activity stops, your blood pressure returns to your normal baseline range.
Blood pressure normally rises with age and body size. Newborn babies often have very low blood pressure numbers that are considered normal for babies, while older teens have numbers similar to adults.
Abnormal Blood Pressure
Abnormal increases in blood pressure are defined as having blood pressures higher than 120/80 mmHg. The following table outlines and defines high blood pressure severity levels.
The ranges in the table are blood pressure guides for adults who do not have any short-term serious illnesses. People with diabetes or chronic kidney disease should keep their blood pressure below 130/80 mmHg.
Although blood pressure increases seen in prehypertension are less than those used to diagnose high blood pressure, prehypertension can progress to high blood pressure and should be taken seriously. Over time, consistently high blood pressure weakens and damages your blood vessels, which can lead to complications.
Types of High Blood Pressure
There are two main types of high blood pressure: primary and secondary high blood pressure.
Primary High Blood Pressure
Primary, or essential, high blood pressure is the most common type of high blood pressure. This type of high blood pressure tends to develop over years as a person ages.
Secondary High Blood Pressure
Secondary high blood pressure is caused by another medical condition or use of certain medicines. This type usually resolves after the cause is treated or removed.
Blood pressure (BP) is the pressure exerted by circulating blood upon the walls of blood vessels. When used without further specification, “blood pressure” usually refers to the arterial pressure in the systemic circulation. It is usually measured at a person’s upper arm. Blood pressure is usually expressed in terms of the systolic (maximum) pressure over diastolic (minimum) pressure and is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). It is one of the vital signs along with respiratory rate, heart rate, oxygen saturation, and body temperature. Normal resting blood pressure in an adult is approximately 120/80 mm Hg.
Blood pressure varies depending on situation, activity, and disease states. It is regulated by the nervous and endocrine systems. Blood pressure that is low due to a disease state is called hypotension, and pressure that is consistently high is hypertension. Both have many causes which can range from mild to severe. Both may be of sudden onset or of long duration. Long term hypertension is a risk factor for many diseases, including kidney failure, heart disease, and stroke. Long term hypertension is more common than long term hypotension in Western countries. Long term hypertension often goes undetected because of infrequent monitoring and the absence of symptoms.
Physiology: During each heartbeat, blood pressure varies between a maximum (systolic) and a minimum (diastolic) pressure.
Q. What blood pressure should I have? What is normal blood pressure?