Blood pressure is the force blood exerts on your arteries when the heart contracts. If the pressure becomes too high, it can stretch the arteries beyond their healthy limit. If left untreated, this can lead to damage to your heart and arteries, stroke, kidney damage and more.
The top number, which is the higher of the two numbers, measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats (when the heart muscles contract).
The bottom number measures the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats (when the heart muscle is resting between beats and refilling with blood).
The chart reflects blood pressure categories defined by the American Heart Association. (click here)
**Managing blood pressure is a lifelong commitment; make a pledge to do so starting today, for yourself and for those you love. Listen to your doctor, read the sound medical information on this site and act on the information to live a more heart-healthy life. Visit heart.org/hbp to find a wealth of information about how to manage your blood pressure.