Skip to Content
Home > Wellness > Health Library > Systolic and Diastolic Blood Pressure
Systolic blood pressure refers to the pressure of blood in the
artery when the heart contracts. It is the top (and higher) number in a blood
Diastolic blood pressure refers to the pressure of blood in the
artery when the heart relaxes between beats. It is the bottom (and lower)
number in a blood pressure reading.
For example, if a person's systolic pressure is 120 millimeters of
mercury (mm Hg) and the diastolic pressure is 80 mm Hg, blood pressure is
recorded as 120/80 and read as "120 over 80."
Current as of:
February 20, 2015
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Robert A. Kloner, MD, PhD - Cardiology
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
To learn more, visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2015 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.