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Health Information Blood Pressure

How high is high? Know your blood pressure numbers

High blood pressure is dangerous because it makes the heart work too hard and contributes to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). It increases the risk of heart disease and stroke and can result in other conditions, such as kidney disease and blindness.

Henry Black, MD, a preventive medicine specialist at RUSH University Medical Center, helped revise the National Institutes of Health’s definition of high blood pressure. A blood pressure level of 140/90 mm Hg or higher is considered high.

About two-thirds of people over age 65 have high blood pressure. If your blood pressure is between 120/80 mm Hg and 139/89 mm Hg, then you have prehypertension. This means that you don’t have high blood pressure now but may develop it in the future, and you should talk to your doctor about ways to keep your blood pressure in check.

Blood Pressure Categories for Adults

 

Systolic*

Diastolic*

Normal

less than 120

less than 80

     

Pre-hypertension

120 to 129

80 to 85

     

High Normal

130 to 139

85 to 89

     

High Blood Pressure

   

Stage 1

140 to 159

90 to 99

Stage 2

160 to 179

100 to 109

Stage 3

180 to 209

110 to 119

Stage 4

210 and over

120 and higher


Source: National High Blood Pressure Education Program

The above categories are for those 18 and older not on a high blood pressure drug and with no short-term serious illness.

*If your systolic and diastolic pressures fall into different categories, your overall status is the higher of the two categories.

To find doctors at RUSH who offer free blood pressure screenings, click here.

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