Blood pressure is the force of the blood on the artery walls as the heart pumps blood through the body. The arteries are the blood vessels that carry blood from the heart to the rest of the body. The heart pumps blood through the blood vessels by contracting. Each time the heart contracts, the blood pushes harder against the walls of the arteries than it does when it rests between beats. This means that the pressure of the blood on the artery walls is greatest each time the heart contracts.
Normal, healthy blood pressure is less than 120/80 ("120 over 80"). Blood pressure can rise and fall with exercise, rest, emotions, or pain. However, if you have several measurements over 120/80, you probably have pre-high (pre-hypertension) or high blood pressure (hypertension). The higher your blood pressure, the greater your risk of having a stroke and other serious medical problems.
Try to reduce the amount of stress in your life, or learn techniques to help you relax and cope with stress better. If you take medicine for high blood pressure, always follow your health care provider's instructions. Don't take less medicine or stop taking medicine without talking to your provider first. It can be dangerous to suddenly stop taking blood pressure medicine. Also, do not increase your dosage of any medicine without first talking with your provider.
If your blood pressure is normal, check it once a year. If it's above normal, follow the schedule for checkups recommended by your health care provider.
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