Blood Pressure Blood Pressure
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Have Your Blood Pressure Checked Regularly Normal blood pressure

systolic: less than 120 mmHg
diastolic: less than 80 mmHg


systolic: 120–139 mmHg
diastolic: 80–89 mmHg

High blood pressure

systolic: 140 mmHg or higher
diastolic: 90 mmHg or higher

Blood pressure is written as two numbers. The first (systolic) number represents the pressure when the heart beats. The second (diastolic) number represents the pressure when the heart rests between beats.

Persons taking hypertensive medications are considered to have high blood pressure. Blood pressure that is slightly higher than normal is called prehypertension. Persons with prehypertension are more likely to develop high blood pressure than are persons with normal blood pressure levels.

Quick Facts Who Has High Blood Pressure? Almost 90% of middle-aged adults will develop high blood pressure during the remainder of their lifetime. About 28% of American adults have prehypertension. Nearly one of five people with high blood pressure do not know they have it. In the United States, high blood pressure is more common among blacks than whites. About 44% of black women have high blood pressure. Health Impact of High Blood Pressure High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, congestive heart failure, and kidney disease. High blood pressure was a primary or contributing cause of death for 319,000 Americans in 2005. Nearly 45 million people visited their doctor for high blood pressure in 2006. High Blood Pressure and Salt A diet high in sodium (salt) increases the risk for higher blood pressure. About 77% of the sodium Americans consume comes from processed and restaurant foods. Reducing sodium levels by half in processed and restaurant foods would save about 150,000 American lives according to the American Journal of Public Health. Preventing and Controlling High Blood Pressure

You can maintain healthy blood pressure through changing your lifestyle or by combining lifestyle changes with prescribed medications.

Key lifestyle changes include the following:

Maintain a healthy weight. Be moderately physically active on most days of the week. Follow a healthy eating plan, which includes eating foods lower in sodium. Quit smoking. If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation. If you have high blood pressure and are prescribed medication, take it as directed.

The most recent recommendations for detecting and treating high blood pressure are available from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute’s Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure.

CDC’s High Blood Pressure Efforts

Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program: CDC currently funds the development of effective strategies to prevent and control heart disease, stroke, and related risk factors in 41 states and the District of Columbia. The program emphasizes policy, environmental, and systems changes that promote heart-healthy and stroke-free living and working conditions. For more information, visit CDC’s National Heart Disease and Stroke