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The facts about blood pressure
Q. What blood pressure should I have? What is normal blood pressure?
A. As described in How does blood pressure work? your blood pressure is a measure of how hard your blood is pushing against the sides of your arteries. The higher the strain on your arteries (and your heart) the more likely it is that you will have health problems in the future. So the lower your blood pressure is, the better.
Blood pressure usually ranges between 90 to 250 for the top or maximum number (systolic) and 60 to 140 for the bottom or minimum number (diastolic).
Because the risk of heart attack and stroke goes up as a person's blood pressure rises, it is best to try to lower your blood pressure even if you don't have high blood pressure. For example someone with a blood pressure of 135/85 is twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke in the future as someone with a blood pressure of 115/75. So, the lower you can get your blood pressure now, the better.
The readings below area a guide to blood pressure levels and any action you may need to take. These levels come from the British Hypertension Society Guidelines for Managing High Blood Pressure 2004. (Please note, this document is in PDF format.)
What the different blood pressure readings mean
- Less than 120 over 80: Your blood pressure is normal and healthy. Follow a healthy lifestyle to keep it at this level.
- Between 120 over 80 and 140 over 90: Your blood pressure is a little higher than it should be, and you should try to lower it. Make healthy changes to your lifestyle.
- 140 over 90 or higher (over a number of weeks): You have high blood pressure. Change your lifestyle - see your doctor or nurse and take any medicines they may give you.