Blood pressure is the force of blood moving through your arteries, and is measured with two numbers. The first, or top number, is your pressure when your heart beats, called the systolic pressure.
The second, or bottom number, measures the force of blood in your arteries while your heart is relaxed (filling with blood between beats). This is called the diastolic pressure.
Blood pressure usually varies throughout the day. For adults, a blood pressure reading of lower than 120/80 is considered normal. Readings between 120/80 and 139/89 are considers pre-hypertension. People with pre-hypertension do not have blood pressure as low as it should be, but not are yet considered to have high blood pressure. Your doctor may tell you that you have high blood pressure if you have two measurements of blood pressure reading s. On physician office visits at least one week apart, that are higher than 140/90.
Treatment of high blood pressure often starts with lifestyle changes, including decreasing salt in your diet, losing weight if necessary, stopping smoking, cutting down on alcohol use, and regular exercise.
In addition to lifestyle changes, medications are often used to lower blood pressure. There are several types of medications that treat high blood pressure with each type of medication having benefits and risks that should be carefully weighed by you and your health care provider.