All about Blood Pressure
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Learn about what your blood pressure means and whether you are in a healthy blood pressure range.

Why should you pay attention to your blood pressure? High blood pressure is the number one risk factor for stroke and a major risk factor for heart disease. High blood pressure is when the blood pressure in your arteries is elevated and your heart has to work harder than normal to pump blood through the blood vessels.

What is blood pressure?

Blood pressure is a measure of the pressure or force of blood against the walls of your blood vessels (known as arteries). Your blood pressure reading is based on two measures called systolic and diastolic. The systolic (top) number is the measure of the pressure force when your heart contracts and pushes out the blood. The diastolic (bottom) number is the measure of when your heart relaxes between beats.


Systolic / Diastolic

Low risk

120 / 80

Medium risk

121-139 / 80-89

High risk

140+ / 90


How do I check my blood pressure?

Make an appointment with your doctor or other healthcare provider to check your blood pressure. It is recommended that you get your blood pressure checked at least once every year by a healthcare provider. If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure (or other related conditions), your doctor may recommend that you get it checked more often. Be sure to ask your doctor how often you should have your blood pressure checked.

What should I do if I have a high blood pressure reading?

If you have one high reading, you should have it checked at least two more times on separate days to determine if it is consistently high. Keep a record of your blood pressure readings on a blood pressure tracking card or use the Heart and Stroke’s Blood Pressure Action Plan to help you to track your blood pressure. This record will help determine whether your blood pressure is within a healthy range.

Measuring your blood pressure at home

Home monitoring can assist your doctor in diagnosing your blood pressure correctly. It is possible for your blood pressure to rise when you visit the doctor's office because you may be anxious. However, your blood pressure can return to normal as you go about your daily activities. By getting your blood pressure measured often can help you determine if your blood pressure is in fact high.

What can I do to control my blood pressure?

High blood pressure can be caused by many factors. You can't control some factors, such as age, ethnicity and gender. Other factors, such as diet, exercise and smoking can be changed through lifestyle changes to reduce your risk for high blood pressure. Check out our article on A Heart Healthy Diet for more information.

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