PREVIOUS QUESTION:

 

NEXT QUESTION:

 

What do the numbers in a blood pressure reading mean?

ANSWER

Blood pressure is always shown with a top and bottom number -- like 130/90.

The top number tells you the pressure when your heart beats. The bottom number lets you know the pressure between beats.

Normal blood pressure is less than 120 and less than 80. If one or both of those numbers is higher, there's too much pressure in your arteries. It's like a tire pumped with too much air.

SOURCES:

CDC: "High Blood Pressure."

National Institute on Aging: "High Blood Pressure."

American Heart Association: "Understanding Blood Pressure Readings," "Heart Insight: Why Blood Pressure Matters," "Hypertensive Crisis: When You Should Call 9-1-1 for High Blood Pressure," "Controlling Hypertension in Adults," "What are the Symptoms of High Blood Pressure?" "Low Blood Pressure -- When Blood Pressure Is Too Low."

Mayo Clinic: "High blood pressure (hypertension)."

UpToDate: "Hypertension: Who Should Be Treated?" IQWiG (Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care): "When is taking medication for high blood pressure a good idea?"

Medscape: "Updated Hypertension Guidelines Released by ACP, AAFP."

Reviewed by James Beckerman on May 17, 2019

SOURCES:

CDC: "High Blood Pressure."

National Institute on Aging: "High Blood Pressure."

American Heart Association: "Understanding Blood Pressure Readings," "Heart Insight: Why Blood Pressure Matters," "Hypertensive Crisis: When You Should Call 9-1-1 for High Blood Pressure," "Controlling Hypertension in Adults," "What are the Symptoms of High Blood Pressure?" "Low Blood Pressure -- When Blood Pressure Is Too Low."

Mayo Clinic: "High blood pressure (hypertension)."

UpToDate: "Hypertension: Who Should Be Treated?" IQWiG (Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care): "When is taking medication for high blood pressure a good idea?"

Medscape: "Updated Hypertension Guidelines Released by ACP, AAFP."

Reviewed by James Beckerman on May 17, 2019

NEXT QUESTION:

When won't you need medication for high blood pressure?

WAS THIS ANSWER HELPFUL

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

    This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.