One in three U.S. adults has high blood pressure, or hypertension. Although common, it is dangerous. It increases risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke.

A blood pressure test measures the pressure in your blood vessels to see if you have high blood pressure or low blood pressure.

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What is a blood pressure test?

A blood pressure test is a regular part of medical exams. It measures pressure in your vessels as your heart beats (systolic pressure) and as it rests (diastolic pressure).

Blood pressure is presented as systolic/diastolic and given in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg):

  • Normal blood pressure is below 120/80 mm Hg.
  • Prehypertension is when your blood pressure range is 120-139/80-89 mm Hg. Without lifestyle changes, this will likely become high blood pressure.
  • Stage 1 hypertension is when your blood pressure range is 140-159/90-99 mm Hg. Lifestyle changes and possibly blood pressure medication are recommended.
  • Stage 2 hypertension is blood pressure that measures 160/100 mm Hg or higher. A healthcare provider may prescribe blood pressure medication in addition to lifestyle changes.

Lifestyle changes that can lower high blood pressure include healthy eating, maintaining healthy weight, regular physical activity and managing stress.

Why is a blood pressure test important?

High blood pressure is considered a “silent killer.” That’s because signs of high blood pressure are not obvious. A blood pressure test can detect problems before they turn deadly.

What should you expect with a blood pressure test?

A healthcare provider will wrap an inflatable cuff around the top of your arm. The cuff will inflate to cut off blood flow and stop the pressure. When it is released and blood begins pumping, the pressure is measured.

It is best to wear a shirt with sleeves that are short or can easily be pushed up. Your healthcare provider may also ask you to avoid smoking or drinking caffeinated beverages for an hour before the test.

CareNow® Can Help

To check up on and discuss your blood pressure concerns, contact the nearest CareNow® urgent care clinic today. You can minimize your wait time with our Web Check-In®.

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