Know Your Blood Pressure

December 2015

Your blood pressure changes over time and in response to many things. Blood pressure is written as two numbers, one over the other. The higher, or top number, is the pressure while the heart is beating. This is called systolic (sis-TOL-ik) pressure. The lower, or bottom number, is the pressure when the heart is resting. This is called diastolic (di-a-STOL-ik) pressure. If your blood pressure is 140/90, you say it is "140 over 90."

Blood pressure goals:
Adults 18 - 59 years of age: Less than 140/90
Adults 60 years of age and older: Less than 150/90

Pregnant women and children may have a different goal.

You may have high blood pressure if it's higher than the goals listed above. Doctors and nurses may call it high blood pressure or hypertension. High blood pressure makes your heart work harder. It can cause a heart attack, stroke and kidney problems. The good news is that you can take steps to lower your blood pressure.

Talk to your doctor. Find out if you need to lower your blood pressure and what you can do.