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Force originating when the heart's pumping pushes the blood against the walls of the blood vessels. Their stretching and contraction help maintain blood flow. Usually measured over an arm or leg artery in humans, blood pressure is expressed as two numbers; normal adult blood pressure is about 120/80 mm of mercury. The higher number (systolic) is measured when the heart's ventricles contract and the lower (diastolic) when they relax. See alsohypertension, hypotension.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on blood pressure, visit Britannica.com.