High blood pressure (hypertension) is defined as high pressure (tension) in the arteries, which are the vessels that carry blood from the heart to the rest of the body.
Blood pressure readings are given as two numbers:
The systolic blood pressure (the top number) equals the pressure in the arteries as the heart contracts.
The diastolic pressure (the bottom number) is the pressure in the arteries as the heart relaxes.
Normal blood pressure is below 120/80.
In 2017, the American College of Cardiology released new guidelines for high blood pressure.
Blood pressure between 120/80 and 129/80 is elevated blood pressure, and a blood pressure of 130/80 or above is considered high.
The American Academy of Cardiology defines blood pressure ranges as:
Hypertension stage 1 is 130-139 or 80-89 mm Hg, and hypertension stage 2 is 140 or higher, or 90 mm Hg or higher.
Complications of high blood pressure include heart disease, kidney (renal) disease, hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis or arteriosclerosis), eye damage, and stroke (brain damage).
Hypertension is a major public health problem. With the new guidelines for defining high blood presure, The American Heart Association estimates high blood pressure affects nearly half of all adults (46%) in the United States.