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Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is the force of blood against your artery walls as it circulates through your body. Blood pressure normally rises and falls throughout the day, but can cause health problems if it stays high for a long time.

High blood pressure is sometimes called the "silent killer" because it usually has no noticeable warning signs or symptoms until other serious problems arise. Having high blood pressure raises your risk for heart disease and stroke, two leading causes of death in Alabama. 

In 2021, over 42% of Alabamians reported having high blood pressure. 

Know Your Numbers

Blood pressure is measured using two numbers. The first (systolic) number represents the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart beats. The second (diastolic) number represents the pressure in your vessels when your heart rests between beats. If the measurement reads 120 systolic and 80 diastolic, you would say "120 over 80" or write "120/80 mmHg."

The following list explains the different ranges of blood pressure:

  • Normal
    Systolic: less than 120
    Diastolic: less than 80
  • Elevated
    Systolic: 120-129
    Diastolic: less than 80
  • High Blood Pressure (Hypertension Stage 1)
    Systolic: 130 - 139
    Diastolic: 80 - 89
  • High Blood Pressure (Hypertension Stage 2)
    Systolic: 140 or higher
    Diastolic: 90
  • Hypertensive Crisis (Emergency C is Needed)
    Systolic: higher than 180
    Diastolic: higher than 120

Note: Your doctor should evaluate unusually low blood pressure readings.

Many people monitor their own blood pressure between visits with their healthcare provider. The following resources can assist those who are self-monitoring:

For more information on understaning blood pressure readings, visit the American Heart Association.

Blood Pressure Resources

Page last updated: May 20, 2024