Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"How do I know if I have high blood pressure?"
My nurse at my doctor's office always takes my blood pressure but I have no idea what it means. Is it high? Low? They never seem to say. How do you know if you have high blood pressure and what affect does it have on a person?
Your doctor's nurse takes your blood pressure every time you come into the office to make sure that it is not too high or too low. I hope the fact that you have not heard anything means that your blood pressure is normal. Sometimes doctors brush over that when things are normal. A normal blood pressure has two number, the systolic (top number) and diastolic (the bottom number). For our purposes the top number is most important. Our goal is have someone's systolic blood pressure below 120 mmHg. A normal blood pressure is less than 120/80 mmHg. If someone's blood pressure is between 120 and 140 mmHg, we usually don't give medicines, but just make sure that it does not go above 140 mmHg. If the systolic blood pressure is consistently above 140 mmHg, then we call that hypertension also know as high blood pressure. People that have hypertension are at greater risk for heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and many other bad things. This is why keeping your blood pressure within normal limits is very important. Next time you are at your primary care physician's office, make sure to ask your doctor what your blood pressure is, and if there is anything you can do to prevent hypertension from developing.
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