- Health & Human Services
- Public Health
- Blood Pressure Screenings
Blood Pressure Screenings
The Public Health Nursing Division offers free blood pressure screenings for Lowell residents on an individual basis and for groups.
You can also have your blood pressure checked at your doctor's office, at a pharmacy with a digital blood pressure measurement machine, or at home using a blood pressure monitor that you can use yourself.
Individual blood pressure screenings
At this time, blood pressure screenings are available by appointment only. Please call 978-674-4308 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule with a Public Health Nurse. We have interpretation services available in all languages.
Blood pressure screening events
To have a Public Health Nurse offer blood pressure screenings at your organization (such as a church or workplace) or event (such as a health fair), please contact the Public Health Nurse Manager at 978-674-1077 or email@example.com.
Blood Pressure Facts
What is blood pressure?
Blood pressure is the pressure of blood pushing against the walls of your arteries. Arteries carry blood from your heart to other parts of your body.
Your blood pressure normally rises and falls throughout the day.
What do my blood pressure numbers mean?
Blood pressure is measured using two numbers:
- The first number, called systolic blood pressure, measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats.
- The second number, called diastolic blood pressure, measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart rests between beats.
If the measurement reads 120 systolic and 80 diastolic, you would say, “120 over 80,” or write, “120/80.”
What is a normal blood pressure reading?
A normal blood pressure level is less than 120/80.
What is high blood pressure (hypertension)?
High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is blood pressure that is higher than normal. Your blood pressure changes throughout the day based on your activities. Having blood pressure measures consistently above normal may result in a diagnosis of high blood pressure (or hypertension).
The higher your blood pressure levels, the more risk you have for other health problems, such as heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
Your health care team can diagnose high blood pressure and make treatment decisions by reviewing your systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels and comparing them to levels found in certain guidelines.
High blood pressure usually has no warning signs or symptoms, and many people do not know they have it. Measuring your blood pressure is the only way to know whether you have high blood pressure.
What problems does high blood pressure cause?
High blood pressure can damage your health in many ways. It can seriously hurt important organs like your heart, brain, kidneys, and eyes.
The good news is that, in most cases, you can manage your blood pressure to lower your risk for serious health problems.
Heart Attack and Heart Disease
High blood pressure can damage your arteries by making them less elastic, which decreases the flow of blood and oxygen to your heart and leads to heart disease. In addition, decreased blood flow to the heart can cause:
- Chest pain, also called angina.
- Heart attack, which happens when the blood supply to your heart is blocked and heart muscle begins to die without enough oxygen. The longer the blood flow is blocked, the greater the damage to the heart.
- Heart failure, a condition that means your heart can’t pump enough blood and oxygen to your other organs.
Stroke and Brain Problems
High blood pressure can cause the arteries that supply blood and oxygen to the brain to burst or be blocked, causing a stroke. Brain cells die during a stroke because they do not get enough oxygen. Stroke can cause serious disabilities in speech, movement, and other basic activities. A stroke can also kill you.
Having high blood pressure, especially in midlife, is linked to having poorer cognitive function and dementia later in life. Learn more about the link between high blood pressure and dementia from the National Institutes of Health’s Mind Your Risks® campaign.
Adults with diabetes, high blood pressure, or both have a higher risk of developing chronic kidney disease than those without these conditions.
How do I know if I have high blood pressure?
There’s only one way to know if you have high blood pressure: Have a doctor or other health professional measure it. Measuring your blood pressure is quick and painless.
Talk with your health care team about regularly measuring your blood pressure at home, also called self-measured blood pressure (SMBP) monitoring.
High blood pressure is called the “silent killer” because it usually has no warning signs or symptoms, and many people do not know they have it.
What can I do to prevent or manage high blood pressure?
Many people with high blood pressure can lower their blood pressure into a healthy range or keep their numbers in a healthy range by making lifestyle changes. Talk with your health care team about
- Getting at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week (about 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week)
- Not smoking
- Eating a healthy diet, including limiting sodium (salt) and alcohol
- Keeping a healthy weight
- Managing stress
Learn more about ways to manage and prevent high blood pressure.
In addition to making positive lifestyle changes, some people with high blood pressure need to take medicine to manage their blood pressure. Learn more about medicines for high blood pressure.
Talk with your health care team right away if you think you have high blood pressure or if you’ve been told you have high blood pressure but do not have it under control.
By taking action to lower your blood pressure, you can help protect yourself against heart disease and stroke, also sometimes called cardiovascular disease (CVD).