Maine Cardiovascular Health Program

Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is the force of blood against the walls of arteries. It will rise and fall during the day.

How to Read Blood Pressure Numbers

A normal blood pressure is 120/80. The top number is known as systolic pressure and shows the pressure of blood on the artery walls when the heart beats. The bottom number is known as diastolic pressure and shows the pressure between beats when the heart rests.


Pre-Hypertension is when a person has a blood pressure range of 120-139/80-89. Those diagnosed with pre-hypertension can for the most part control or decrease their blood pressure by:

  • Eating a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables while limiting foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol
  • Avoiding sodium (salt)
  • Being physically active for at least 30 minutes each day
  • Not using any tobacco products

People with pre-hypertension are at risk of developing high blood pressure and may need to take medicine to help control it.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) is when a person has a blood pressure range of 140/90 and higher. The healthcare provider may take many different readings over time before diagnosing a person with high blood pressure. People with this are at higher risk of having a heart attack, heart failure, stroke, kidney disease, and other serious health problems.

High blood pressure can be controlled if people eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, don’t use tobacco products, and take medicine as directed by their health care provider.