Blood pressure is the force of blood flow inside your blood vessels. Your doctor records your blood pressure as two numbers, such as 120/80, which you may hear them say as "120 over 80." Both numbers are important.
The first number is the pressure as your heart beats and pushes blood through the blood vessels. Health care providers call this the "systolic" pressure. The second number is the pressure when the vessels relax between heartbeats. It's called the "diastolic" pressure.
Here's what the numbers mean:
- Healthy blood pressure: below 120/80
- Early high blood pressure: between 120/80 and 130/80
- High blood pressure: 130/80 or higher
The lower your blood pressure, the better your chances of delaying or preventing a heart attack or a stroke. When your blood moves through your vessels with too much force, you have high blood pressure or hypertension.
When your heart has to work harder, your risk for heart disease and diabetes goes up. High blood pressure raises your risk for heart attack, stroke, eye problems, and kidney disease.
You should always have an idea of what your blood pressure is, just as you know your height and weight.