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Controlling Blood Pressure

Regular checks may help you stay healthy

What is blood pressure?

Blood pressure is the pressure of blood pushing against the walls of your arteries. It is normal for blood pressure to rise and fall throughout the day.

High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is blood pressure that is higher than normal. Your blood pressure changes throughout the day. But having blood pressure measures that are consistently above normal lead to a high blood pressure (or hypertension) diagnosis.1

What causes high blood pressure?

High blood pressure isn’t a condition that happens overnight. It usually happens over time. Most often, it is the result of unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as not getting enough regular physical activity. But people with certain health conditions, such as diabetes and obesity, can also increase the risk for developing high blood pressure. It can also happen during pregnancy.

Know your blood pressure numbers

Unfortunately, high blood pressure doesn’t always have warning signs or symptoms. Many people don’t even know they have it. That’s why it’s important to check your blood pressure regularly.

When checking your blood pressure, you’ll be looking at 2 numbers, a top number and bottom number. A normal blood pressure reading is 120/80. And a high blood pressure reading begins at 140/90. The chart below shows all the blood pressure types. Your health care provider can test for high blood pressure, tell you your blood pressure type and help you make a treatment plan if needed.

If your blood pressure is ever at 180/20 or higher, call your health care provider right away.

Blood pressure

Top number

Bottom number


Under 120

Under 80

Starting to get high


Under 80

High Stage 1 (Hypertension)



High Stage 2 (Hypertension)

Above 140

Above 90