Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier
WebMD

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine
WebMD

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion
    WebMD

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community
    WebMD

    Community

    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Hypertension/High Blood Pressure Health Center

Select An Article

Tests for High Blood Pressure

Font Size
A
A
A

The only way to tell whether you have high blood pressure is to have it measured with a blood pressure cuff (sphygmomanometer).

  • This device consists of a gauge and a rubber cuff that is placed around your arm and inflated.
  • Having your blood pressure measured is painless and takes just a few minutes.

Blood pressure (BP) is classified as follows by the American Heart Association:

Recommended Related to Hypertension

How High Blood Pressure Leads to Erectile Dysfunction

To understand how high blood pressure can lead to erectile dysfunction, you first have to understand how erections work. Getting an erection is really a complicated process.

Read the How High Blood Pressure Leads to Erectile Dysfunction article > >

Normal BP:

  • Under age 60: Systolic less than 140 mm Hg; diastolic less than 90
  • Age 60 years and older: Systolic less than 150 mm Hg; diastolic less than 90 mm Hg

High BP:

  • Under age 60: Systolic greater than 140 mm Hg; diastolic greater than 90 mm Hg
  • Age 60 years and older: Systolic greater than 150 mm Hg; diastolic greater than 90 mm Hg

Tests may be ordered by your health care provider to check for causes of high blood pressure and to assess any organ damage from high blood pressure or its treatment. These tests may include the following:

Any of the following may be performed to detect damage to the heart or blood vessels:

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG) is a noninvasive test that detects the electrical activity of the heart and records it on paper. ECG is helpful for evaluating for damage of the heart muscle, such as heart attack, and/or thickening/hypertrophy of the heart wall/muscle, common complications of high blood pressure.

  • Echocardiogram is an ultrasound examination of the heart taken through the chest. Sound waves take a picture of the heart as it beats and relaxes and then transmits these images to a video monitor. The echocardiogram can detect problems with the heart such as enlargement, abnormalities in motion of the heart wall, blood clots, and heart valve abnormalities. It also gives a good measurement of the strength of the heart muscle (ejection fraction). The echocardiogram is more comprehensive than an ECG, but also more expensive.

  • A plain chest x-ray primarily provides an estimate of the size of the heart, but it is much less specific than echocardiography, which provides more detail.

  • Doppler ultrasound is used to check blood flow through arteries at pulse points in your arms, legs, hands, and feet. This is an accurate way to detect peripheral vascular disease, a common finding in people with high blood pressure. It also can depict the arteries to both kidneys and sometimes depicts narrowings that can lead to high BP in a minority of patients.

WebMD Medical Reference from eMedicineHealth

Reviewed by James Beckerman, MD, FACC on April 23, 2014
Next Article:

Today on WebMD

blood pressure
Symptoms, causes, and more.
headache
Learn the causes.
 
Compressed heart
5 habits to change.
Mature man floating in pool, goggles on head
Exercises that help.
 
heart healthy living
ARTICLE
Erectile Dysfunction Slideshow
SLIDESHOW
 
Bernstein Hypertension Affects Cardiac Risk
VIDEO
Compressed heart
Article
 
Heart Disease Overview Slideshow
SLIDESHOW
thumbnail for lowering choloesterol slideshow
SLIDESHOW
 
Heart Foods Slideshow
SLIDESHOW
Low Blood Pressure
VIDEO
 

WebMD Special Sections