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High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is sometimes called the "silent killer" because it usually has no noticeable warning signs or symptoms until other serious problems arise.

In 2009, better than 37% of Alabamians reported having high blood pressure. Blood pressure is the force of blood against your artery walls as it circulates through your body. Blood pressure normally rises and falls throughout the day, but can cause health problems if it stays high for a long time. Having high blood pressure raises your risk for heart disease and stroke, the first and third leading causes of death in Alabama.

Know your numbers: blood pressure is measured using two numbers. The first (systolic) number represents the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart beats. The second (diastolic) number represents the pressure in your vessels when your heart rest between beats. If the measurement reads 120 systolic and 80 diastolic, you would say "120 over 80" or write "120/80 mmHg."

Blood Pressure Category


mm Hg (upper #)



mm Hg (lower#)


less than 120


less than 80


120 - 139


80 - 89

High Blood Pressure
(Hypertension Stage 1)

140 - 159


90 - 99

High Blood Pressure
(Hypertension Stage 2)

160 or higher


100 or higher

Hypertensive Crisis
(Emergency C are Needed)

higher than 180


higher than 110

Note: Your doctor should evaluate unusually low blood pressure readings.

Blood Pressure Task Force

Visit the Blood Pressure Task Force for information developed to assist clinicians in the identification, treatment, and management of hypertension utilizing scientific evidence-based approaches.

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