How to Manage Blood Pressure
The first step to managing blood pressure is to understand what the levels mean and what is considered normal, elevated, high blood pressure (hypertension) and hypertensive crisis. heart.org/BPlevels
Blood pressure is typically recorded as two numbers: 117/76. Read as “117 over 76 millimeters of mercury.”
- Systolic: The top number, the higher of the two numbers, measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats (when the heart muscle contracts).
- Diastolic: The bottom number, the lower of the two numbers, measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart is resting between heart beats.
Blood Pressure Categories
- Normal: systolic less than 120 mm Hg and diastolic less than 80 mm Hg
- Elevated Blood Pressure: diastolic 120 to 129 mm Hg and diastolic less than 80 mm Hg.
- High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) Stage 1: systolic 130 to 139 mm Hg or diastolic 80 to 89 mm Hg.
- High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) Stage 2: systolic 140 or higher mm Hg or diastolic 90 or higher mm Hg.
- Hypertensive Crisis (Call your doctor immediately): systolic higher than 180 mm Hg and/or diastolic higher than 120 mm Hg.
Health care providers can take blood pressure readings and provide recommendations. Check. Change. Control. helps you track your progress in reducing blood pressure.
Tips for Success
Eat Smart: Eat a healthy diet of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, plant-based proteins, lean animal proteins and fish. Limit sodium, saturated fats and added sugars. Limit sugary foods and drinks, fatty or processed meats, salty foods, refined carbohydrates and highly processed foods. heart.org/EatSmart
Move More: Physical activity helps control blood pressure, weight and stress levels. heart.org/MoveMore
Manage Weight: If you’re overweight, even a slight weight loss can reduce high blood pressure. heart.org/Weight
Don’t Smoke: Every time you smoke, vape or use tobacco, the nicotine can cause a temporary increase in blood pressure. heart.org/Tobacco
Sleep Well: Short sleep (less than 6 hours) and poor-quality sleep are associated with high blood pressure.