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CCRH – Blood Pressure, Understanding the Numbers

Provided by Corpus Christi Rehabilitation Hospital 

New guidelines released last fall by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association have changed the way you should be looking at your blood pressure numbers. High blood pressure is now defined as 130/80 and higher, which differs from the older definition of high blood pressure as 140/90or higher.

But what exactly is blood pressure, and what do these numbers mean?

“Blood pressure is the pressure blood puts on the walls of blood vessels as it circulates through your body,” says Dr. Michael Fuentes, Medical Director of Corpus Christi Rehabilitation Hospital. “High blood pressure is when the force of the circulating blood is consistently too high, putting individuals at risk for health issues such as strokes, heart attacks, and heart failure among other conditions.”

When an individual has his or her blood pressure taken, two numbers are given – a top number and bottom number (i.e. 120/80). The top number represents the systolic number, which indicates how much pressure the blood is exerting against the artery walls as the heart beats. The bottom number represents diastolic pressure, or how much pressure the blood is exerting on the artery walls in between the heartbeats when the heart is at rest.

“High blood pressure doesn’t usually have any signs or symptoms, so having your blood pressure tested by a healthcare professional and knowing your numbers is the best way to protect yourself,” Fuentes says. “While it can’t be cured, high blood pressure can be managed through lifestyle changes and even medication when necessary.”

“When it comes to blood pressure, be sure to discuss yours with your physician,” Fuentes says. “Your physician will know best how the guidelines above apply to your particular situation and can help you get on the right track to a healthier lifestyle.”

CCRH - Blood Pressure

Corpus Christi Rehabilitation Hospital provides specialized physical rehabilitation services to patients recovering from or living with disabilities caused by injuries, illnesses, or chronic medical conditions. The hospital is ranked among the Top 10% in the nation, and its Stroke Rehabilitation program has been certified by The Joint Commission.

For more information, visit

5726 Esplanade Dr • Corpus Christi, Texas 78414 • (P) 361.906.3700 • (F) 361.906.3797

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