High blood pressure is a condition that puts you at risk for heart attack, stroke, and kidney disease. It does not usually cause symptoms. But it can be serious.
When your doctor or nurse tells you your blood pressure, he or she will say 2 numbers. For instance, your doctor or nurse might say that your blood pressure is “140 over 90.” The top number is the pressure inside your arteries when your heart is contracting. The bottom number is the pressure inside your arteries when your heart is relaxed.
The table below shows how doctors and nurses define high and normal blood pressure. “Prehypertension” is a term doctors or nurses use as a warning. People with prehypertension do not yet have high blood pressure. But their blood pressure is not as low as it should be for good health.
|Level||Top Number||Bottom Number|
|High||140 or above||90 or above|
|Prehypertension||120 to 139||80 to 89|
|Normal||119 or below||79 or below|
If your doctor or nurse has prescribed blood pressure medicine, the most important thing you can do is to take it. If it causes side effects, do not just stop taking it. Instead, talk to your doctor or nurse about the problems it causes. He or she might be able to lower your dose or switch you to another medicine. If cost is a problem, mention that too. He or she might be able to put you on a less expensive medicine. Taking your blood pressure medicine can keep you from having a heart attack or stroke, and it can save your life!
You have a lot of control over your blood pressure. To lower it: