Blood pressure is one of the most important indicators of your cardiovascular health.1 Every time you visit your physician, he or she will take your blood pressure. You can also monitor your blood pressure at home with an electronic blood pressure monitor.
What is Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure is a measurement of the pressure exerted by blood on the walls of blood vessels. Elevated blood pressure can damage blood vessels, increasing the risk of heart attack, stroke, congestive heart failure, and kidney disease to name just a few among many other potential complications.1,2
High blood pressure is the most important modifiable risk factor for coronary heart disease (the leading cause of death in North America), stroke (the third leading cause of death), congestive heart failure, end-stage kidney disease, and vascular disease. Mild-to-moderate hypertension, if left completely untreated, is associated with a 30% risk of atherosclerotic disease and a 50% risk of organ damage after only 8-10 years of onset.2
Blood Pressure Measurements
All blood pressure measurements include two numbers: the systolic number (the top number indicates pressure during ventricular contraction) and the diastolic number (the bottom number indicates pressure during ventricular relaxation).
The following blood pressure chart for men provides guidelines for blood pressure:
|Systolic (mm Hg)||Diastolic (mm Hg)|
|140-159||90-99||Hypertension (Stage 1)|
|160-179||100-109||Hypertension (Stage 2)|
|>180||>110||Hypertension (Stage 3)|
A 2005 survey in the United States found that in the male population aged 20 years or older, over 40 million men have prehypertension, over 12 million men have stage 1 hypertension, and over 4 million men have stage 2 hypertension. For a comprehensive overview of blood pressure as well as high blood pressure medical therapies, see EMG’s Blood Pressure section under medical health issues.
EMG Health Numbers Homepage: Health Numbers
External Resources: American Heart Association: High Blood Pressure
Updated: May 12, 2015