Understanding Blood Pressure
About 1 in 3 adults in the United States has high blood pressure. High blood pressure itself usually has no symptoms. That is why knowing your blood pressure numbers is important, even when you are feeling fine.
Systolic and Diastolic Pressure
Your blood pressure is measured using two numbers. These numbers are for systolic and diastolic pressures. When you visit a doctor’s office and your blood pressure readings are taken, here is what the test results mean:
- Systolic pressure is when the heart beats while pumping blood.
- Diastolic pressure is when the heart is at rest between beats.
- Usually blood pressure numbers are written with the systolic number above or before the diastolic, such as 120/80.
- Normal blood pressure for adults is the systolic, or the top number, being less than 120. The diastolic, or the bottom number, should be less than 80.
When high blood pressure has no known cause, it may be called essential hypertension, primary hypertension, or idiopathic hypertension. When another condition causes high blood pressure, it is sometimes called secondary high blood pressure, or secondary hypertension. In some cases of high blood pressure, only the systolic blood pressure number is high. This condition is called isolated systolic hypertension (ISH).
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