Image Caption : Healthy and Unhealthy Blood Vessel : Some blood pressure medications work by increasing vessel dilation and blood flow. Blood pressure medications are grouped into several classes. Each class works in a different way to lower blood pressure. One example is the ACE inhibitors (e.g., enalapril, lisinopril, ramipril). This class of medications works by blocking the body's production of a substance that tightens the blood vessels. As a result, the blood vessels become more relaxed, and the pressure inside the vessels decreases. Angiotensin II receptor blockers (e.g., candesartan, losartan, valsartan) is another group that works in a similar way as the ACE inhibitors. But instead of blocking the production of the blood vessel-tightening substance, it stops the substance from working on the blood vessels. This causes the blood vessels to relax and the blood pressure to decrease.
Blood Pressure Numbers: What They Mean
Blood pressure numbers include systolic (sis-TOL-ik) and diastolic (di-a-STOL-ik) pressures. Systolic blood pressure is the pressure when the heart beats while pumping blood. Diastolic blood pressure is the pressure when the heart is at rest between beats.You will most often see blood pressure numbers written with the systolic number above or before the diastolic, such as 120/80 mmHg. (The mmHg is millimeters of mercury-the units used to measure blood pressure.)The table below shows normal numbers for adults. It also shows which numbers put you at greater risk for health problems. Blood pressure tends to go up and down, even in people who have normal blood pressure. If your numbers stay above normal most of the time, you're at risk.
Categories for Blood Pressure Levels in Adults
(in mmHg, or millimeters of mercury)
Systolic (top number)
Diastolic (bottom number)
|Normal||Less than 120||And||Less than 80|
|High blood pressure|
|Stage 2||160 or higher||Or||100 or higher|
The ranges in the table apply to most adults (aged 18 and older) who don't have short-term serious illnesses.
All levels above 120/80 mmHg raise your risk, and the risk grows as blood pressure levels rise. "Prehypertension" means you're likely to end up with HBP, unless you take steps to prevent it. -National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Blood pressure (BP) is the pressure exerted by circulating blood upon the walls of blood vessels. When used without further specification, "blood pressure" usually refers to the arterial pressure in the systemic circulation. It is usually measured at a person's upper arm. Blood pressure is usually expressed in terms of the systolic (maximum) pressure over diastolic (minimum) pressure and is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). It is one of the vital signs along with respiratory rate, heart rate, oxygen saturation, and body temperature. Normal resting blood pressure in an adult is approximately 120/80 mm Hg.
Blood pressure varies depending on situation, activity, and disease states. It is regulated by the nervous and endocrine systems. Blood pressure that is low due to a disease state is called hypotension, and pressure that is consistently high is hypertension. Both have many causes which can range from mild to severe. Both may be of sudden onset or of long duration. Long term hypertension is a risk factor for many diseases, including kidney failure, heart disease, and stroke. Long term hypertension is more common than long term hypotension in Western countries. Long term hypertension often goes undetected because of infrequent monitoring and the absence of symptoms.
The material on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Consult a licensed medical professional for the diagnosis and treatment of all medical conditions and before starting a new diet or exercise program. If you have a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.