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Understanding Your Blood Pressure Reading

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  • Written By: Kirby Medical Center

Blood Pressure

Understanding your blood pressure

What Your Blood Pressure Reading Means

Monitoring your blood pressure is an important component of your overall health. But what does your reading really mean?

What the Numbers Mean

When you get your blood pressure taken, the number is expressed in a measurement with two numbers like a fraction. The number on top is your systolic blood pressure and the one on the bottom is your diastolic blood pressure. Your systolic blood pressure is the pressure in your arteries when your heart muscle is contracting. Your diastolic blood pressure is your blood pressure between your heartbeats.

What Levels Are Considered Healthy?


When your blood pressure reading is less than 120/80, your blood pressure is within a normal and healthy range. To maintain this level, continue making heart-healthy lifestyle choices like getting regular exercise.


When your systolic blood pressure falls between 120-129 and your diastolic blood pressure falls below 80, your blood pressure is considered elevated. This means that you are at risk for developing high blood pressure. You should consider leading a more active lifestyle and eating a healthier diet.

High Blood Pressure—Hypertension Stage 1

Once your systolic reading has reached the 130-139 range and your diastolic reading is at 80-89, you are in the first stage of having hypertension (high blood pressure). Your doctor may advise healthier lifestyle habits.

High Blood Pressure—Hypertension Stage 2

If your blood pressure exceeds 140/90 regularly, you are considered being in stage 2 of high blood pressure. At this point, your doctor will likely prescribe you with blood pressure medications and advise healthier lifestyle habits.

Hypertensive Crisis

If your blood exceeds 180/120 at, any point, this is considered a hypertensive crisis. If this happens, wait several minutes before checking your blood pressure again. If it is still this high, you should seek immediate medical attention.

Contact Kirby Medical Center

At Kirby Medical Center, we are dedicated to helping our community learn how to stay healthy and safe. If you are concerned about your health risks and the types of vaccines that are right for you, contact Kirby Medical Center at 217-762-2115 to learn more about how we can assist with all your healthcare needs.