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​What is Blood Pressure?

​The organs in your body need oxygen to survive. Oxygen is carried through the body by the blood. When the heart beats, it creates pressure that pushes blood through a network of tube-shaped arteries and veins, also known as blood vessels and capillar​​ies. The pressure - blood pressure - is the result of two forces. The first force occurs as blood pumps out of the heart and into the arteries that are part of the circulatory system. The second force is created as the heart rests between heart beats. (These two forces are each represented by numbers in a blood pressure reading.)

This chart reflects blood pressure categories defined by the American Heart Association.

Blood Pressure Category​​ Systolic
mm Hg (upper#)

​​ Diastolic
mm Hg (lower#)
Normal: less than 120 (Systolic) and less than 80 (Diastolic)
Prehypertension: 120 - 139 (Systolic) or 80 - 89 (Diastolic)
High Blood Pressure
(Hypertension) Stage 1:
140 - 159 (Systolic) or 90 - 99 (Diastolic)
High Blood Pressure
(Hypertension) Stage 2:
160 or higher (Systolic) or 100 or higher (Diastolic)
Hypertensive Crisis
(Emergency care needed):​​
Higher than 180 (Systolic) or Higher than 110 ​(Diastolic)​

Your doctor should evaluate unusually low blood pressure readings.





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