How Do I Know if I Have High Blood Pressure?

How Do I Know if I Have High Blood Pressure?

Almost half the adults in the United States have high blood pressure, but less than 25% have it under control, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Your blood pressure is a measurement of how hard your blood presses against the walls of your arteries, and it indicates how well your heart and vascular system work. The medical name for high blood pressure is hypertension. 

Hypertension is sometimes called the silent killer because you may not have any symptoms, even if your blood pressure is so high you’re in danger of heart failure or stroke.

One of the reasons the providers at Heart & Vascular Institute check your blood pressure at each visit is because hypertension can damage your blood vessels and increase your risk of numerous, serious conditions.

The numbers

Your blood pressure reading comprises two numbers, written like a fraction, for example, 130 over 90. Here’s what those numbers mean:


The top number is your systolic pressure, and it measures the pressure of your blood in your arteries when your heart beats. It’s the higher number because your heartbeat forces your blood through your vessels.


The bottom number shows the blood pressure in your arteries between heartbeats. It’s lower because your heart is relaxed. 

What’s normal? 

A normal blood pressure reading is 120/80 or lower. If your reading is 130-139 over 80-89, you have stage 1 hypertension.

Stage 2 is 140 over 90 or higher. Most people with stage 1 or stage 2 hypertension don’t have symptoms. Many patients are surprised to learn they have high blood pressure. 

Anything from 180/120 more than one time per week is considered a hypertensive crisis and means you should seek medical attention immediately. Blood pressure that high can be accompanied by symptoms such as:

However, it’s possible to be in a hypertensive crisis and have no signs or symptoms.

Monitoring your blood pressure

You might have a higher blood pressure reading in our office than usual, a circumstance sometimes called white coat syndrome or white coat hypertension. Researchers don’t fully understand why some people have higher blood pressure in a health care setting. 

One way to find out if you have white coat syndrome is to monitor your blood pressure at home. We can help you determine what type of blood pressure monitor to get and how to use it properly.

We can also guide you regarding how often you should take your blood pressure. Monitoring at home, over time, provides a better picture of your blood pressure. It can also be a good way to find out if a given treatment approach is working.

Get expert advice

Hypertension is widespread and underdiagnosed, so it’s a good idea to know your baseline reading and be aware of your risk. That’s especially true if you have a reason to be concerned about your blood pressure, such as a family history of hypertension.

To learn more, schedule an appointment by phone or online today at a Heart & Vascular Institute location in Dearborn, Detroit, Southfield, or Wayne, Michigan.


You Might Also Enjoy...

 What Can I Expect During My Stress Test?

What Can I Expect During My Stress Test?

Anytime your doctor suggests further testing, it can be worrisome. When your heart’s involved, it can be especially scary. If your doctor has asked you to take a stress test, you probably have questions.
Don’t Ignore These Signs of a Heart Attack

Don’t Ignore These Signs of a Heart Attack

Movies and television shows have a familiar depiction of a person having a heart attack, but in real life, a heart attack can be far less dramatic. Some symptoms are much more subtle, and some are easy to ignore. 

5 Risk Factors for High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is often called the “silent killer” because it doesn’t cause symptoms, so you may not know you have it. In this post, we discuss risk factors that make high blood pressure more likely.
How to Get to the Root of Your Chest Pain 

How to Get to the Root of Your Chest Pain 

Chest pain can be worrisome, especially if it recurs. Understanding why you’re experiencing chest pain is the key to addressing the problem. But getting to the root of why you have pain may take time and testing.