What is blood pressure?

Blood pressure refers to the force with which blood pushes against your arteries. When your blood pressure level is high, known as hypertension, your blood pushes against your arteries with so much force that it may damage your heart, blood vessels, kidneys and other organs. Your risk for heart attacks and strokes also increases.

What’s My Number?
If you don’t know, ask your physician to check it. Normal blood pressure readings fall below 120/80 mmHg. You have high blood pressure if your numbers are 140/90 mmHg or above. Physicians call the middle ground—between 120 and 139 for the top number and 80 to 89 for the bottom number—prehypertension.

Like high blood pressure, you probably have no symptoms, and your risk for prehypertension increases with age and if you carry extra weight. Prehypertension typically progresses into hypertension unless you take steps to prevent it.

What should I do?
These tried-and-true steps to good health can help keep your blood pressure in a desirable range:

  • Lose weight if you’re overweight or obese.
  • Exercise more. Aim for 30 minutes most days of the week.
  • Eat a healthful diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products.
  • Cut back on salt. Limit the amount of packaged and processed foods you eat.
  • Don’t smoke. Talk with your physician about specific ways you can achieve this goal.
Mission Health Care Network | 2525 de Sales Avenue | Chattanooga, TN 37404 | MissionHealth@memorial.org
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