Blood Pressure

Definition of Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is the force (pressure) exerted by the blood in the arteries as the pressure cycles up and down with each heartbeat.

Meaning of the 2 Numbers

  • The top number is the systolic pressure and is reached when the heart squeezes and is working.
  • The bottom number is the lowest number that is recorded when the heart relaxes and is at rest.

The higher the numbers, the more difficult it is for the blood to flow through the arteries, and the greater the damage to the blood vessels throughout the body.

Normal Blood Pressure

Normal: Systolic <120mmHg/ Diastolic <80mmHg

Abnormal Blood Pressure

  • Hypotension (low blood pressure): ≤90 / ≤60
  • Elevated:120-129 / <80
  • High Blood Pressure (Hypertension level 1):130-139 / 80-89
  • High Blood Pressure (Hypertension level 2): ≥140 / ≥90
  • Hypertensive Crisis: ≥180 / ≥120

Importance of Blood Pressure Checks

High blood pressure can lead to heart attack, stroke, congestive heart failure, arteriosclerosis, aortic dissection, kidney damage, kidney failure, vision loss, and brain damage. Many people with high blood pressure have no symptoms.

Blood Pressure Check Location & Time

If you would like to schedule an appointment with public health nurse staff, please contact us at 414-329-5275 or email

Tips to Lower Blood Pressure

  • Check with your primary care provider before making any medication or lifestyle modifications.
  • Control blood sugars. People with diabetes are twice as likely to have hypertension. Unhealthy blood pressure levels almost always accompany adult onset diabetes. Keeping blood sugars under control is an important aspect of blood pressure management.
  • Exercise regularly. Exercising 30 minutes a day regularly can help to lower blood pressure and condition the heart and lungs.
  • Lose weight if needed through and appropriate eating and exercise plan. Following the DASH diet can help control salt intake.
  • Moderate consumption of alcohol. Limiting alcohol to 1 -2 drinks per day is recommended.
  • Stop smoking. This is the single healthiest lifestyle change that can be made.
  • Stress management. Excessive stress over a long period of time can lead to health problems, including cardiovascular disease.

Helpful Resources

Test Your Blood Pressure IQ