OHSU

Manage Blood Pressure

If you have high blood pressure, the blood flowing through your arteries is pushing harder than normal against your artery walls. This is bad for your health. Having high blood pressure can cause:

  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Heart failure
  • Kidney failure

A blood pressure reading of 120 over 80 (120/80) or less is considered normal for adults. A blood pressure reading of 140 over 90 (140/90) or more is high blood pressure.

Blood pressure between 120–139 over 80–89 is considered prehypertension (high blood pressure is likely to develop). If you have prehypertension, you need to make changes to reduce your risk of cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel) disease. This can lead to heart attack, stroke and other life-threatening conditions.

Even if you already had a stroke or heart attack, controlling your blood pressure can help prevent another one. You need to:

  • Lose weight if you're overweight.
  • Eat foods low in salt, saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol.
  • Eat fruits and vegetables and fat-free or low-fat dairy products.
  • Enjoy regular physical activity.
  • Limit alcohol to no more than two drinks a day if you're a man and one drink a day if you're a woman. Ask your doctor if you can safely drink alcohol, because it can raise your blood pressure.
  • Take your medicine as prescribed.
  • Know what your blood pressure should be and try to keep it at that level.
Get a free fact sheet on managing your blood pressure