Understanding Blood Pressure Readings


Blood pressure is typically recorded as two numbers, written as a ratio like this:

HBP Reading With Systolic And Diastolic Graphic Reading

Read as “117 over 76 millimeters of mercury”


The top number, which is also the higher of the two numbers, measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats (when the heart muscle contracts).


The bottom number, which is also the lower of the two numbers, measures the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats (when the heart muscle is resting between beats and refilling with blood).

Couple On Computer

What is the AHA recommendation for healthy blood pressure?

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

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





























Understanding Blood Pressure Readings.

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