Hypertension is the term used to describe high blood pressure.

Blood pressure readings are measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg) and usually given as two numbers. For example, 120 over 80 (written as 120/80 mmHg).

  • The top number is your systolic pressure, the pressure created when your heart beats. It is considered high if it is consistently over 140.

  • The bottom number is your diastolic pressure, the pressure inside blood vessels when the heart is at rest. It is considered high if it is consistently over 90.

This chart reflects blood pressure categories defined by the American Heart Association.


Most of the time, there are no symptoms. Symptoms that may occur include:

  • Chest pain

  • Confusion

  • Ear noise or buzzing

  • Irregular heartbeat

  • Nosebleed

  • Tiredness

  • Vision changes

If you have a severe headache or any of the symptoms above, see your doctor right away. These may be signs of a complication or dangerously high blood pressure called malignant hypertension.

Causes and Risk Factors

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