Patient information

Blood pressure

What is blood pressure and how do you test It?

Blood pressure is the pressure that moves blood around your body. It is essential to keep you alive, but a blood pressure that is too high or too low can be bad for your health.

To test your blood pressure, your doctor will place a cuff around your upper arm. The cuff is then inflated with air, which may feel tight around your arm temporarily. While your doctor listens to the pulse in your arm with a stethoscope, the cuff is then slowly deflated.

Blood pressure is recorded with two numbers. The top number is the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart is beating (systolic) and the bottom number is the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart relaxes between heart beats (diastolic). Normal systolic blood pressure is less than or equal to 120 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and normal diastolic blood pressure is less than or equal to 80 mm Hg.

If the blood pressure on several measurements is higher than 140/90 mm Hg, this is diagnosed as high blood pressure (hypertension). High blood pressure is damaging to your heart and other organs and should be treated.