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How To Interpret Blood Pressure Readings

What Are The Long Term Effects Of Hypertension

Easy Blood Pressure, Understanding your blood pressure reading.

Blood vital sign does not remain constant at all times but varies and adjusts to the bodies needs depending on various factors such as the position of the body, physical activity, breathing, and emotional state. If you do exercise, then the pressure will increase to push more blood around the body. Exercising is usually recommended for improvements in health, and that exercise can raise your resting heart rate by 50 to 70% above the resting heart rate. Just the thought of going to a doctor can increase your heart rate, and doctors describe the elevated blood vital sign level that results simply from being in their office as White Coat Syndrome. However, if your hypertension stays persistently high for a long time, it can damage your heart and your blood vessels, leading to severe health problems. It puts extra demand on the heart and blood vessels, thus weakening the heart muscles and increasing the risk of heart disease. When your vital signs remain consistently high for extended periods, it is referred to as hypertension. Hypertension usually does not have any visibly apparent signs or symptoms therefore, the only way to know if you have hypertension is by having it measured either at home or by your medical practitioner. Uncontrolled high blood levels can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

Taking Your Pulse Versus Checking Your Blood Pressure

While both are indications of health, blood pressure and heart rate are two separate measurements. Learn more about the difference between blood pressure and heart rate.

Systolic is less than 120 and my diastolic is less than 80

Great job! Your blood pressure is normal. To keep your readings in this range, stick with heart-healthy habits like following a balanced diet and getting regular exercise.

Systolic is 120 129 and my diastolic is less than 80

The good news is that you dont have high blood pressure. However, your numbers fall within the Elevated category, making you more likely to develop high blood pressure unless you take action to control it. Ready to make some small changes that have big impacts? Healthy lifestyle choices are a great place to start.

Systolic is 130 139 or my diastolic is 80 89

You are in the first stage of hypertension, but there are actions you can take to get your blood pressure under control. Your doctor will speak to you about small changes that can make a big difference and other BP Raisers. In addition, monitoring blood pressure outside of the doctors office is important for BP control.

Systolic is 140 or higher or my diastolic is 90 or higher

Systolic is higher than 180 and/or my diastolic is higher than 120

Written by American Heart Association editorial staff and reviewed by science and medicine advisers. See our editorial policies and staff.

How To Take Blood Pressure At Home

It is important to follow certain steps to get accurate readings when you measure blood pressure at home. Otherwise, the blood pressure reading you get may be higher or lower than the true value:

  • Sit comfortably for at several minutes before taking your blood pressure.
  • Place the cuff around your arm touching the skin, not over clothes.
  • Have the arm with the cuff resting at chest level on a table.
  • Uncross your legs and have your feet flat on the floor.
  • Be still and do not talk while the machine is measuring your blood pressure.

If you are using Lark and an associated device, your measurement should sync automatically. Otherwise, write down or enter your measurement immediately so you do not forget.

It is best to measure blood pressure after using the restroom and at least 30 minutes after exercising, eating, taking caffeine, drinking alcohol, or using tobacco.

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How Do I Know If I Have High Blood Pressure

Theres 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 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.

Variations In Blood Pressure

Learning to Take an Accurate Blood Pressure Reading

Your blood pressure changes to meet your bodys needs. If a reading is high, your doctor may measure your blood pressure again on several separate occasions to confirm the level.

Your doctor may also recommend that you measure your blood pressure at home or have a 24-hour recording with a monitoring device.

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When To Check Blood Pressure

  • If your blood pressure is normal , get it checked every year, or more often as your doctor suggests.
  • If your blood pressure is elevated — a systolic blood pressure between 120 and 129 or diastolic blood pressure of less than 80 — your doctor will probably want to check it every 3-6 months. They will probably recommend lifestyle changes like more exercise and a better diet.
  • If you have stage 1 hypertension — 130-139 over 89-90 — the doctor might suggest lifestyle changes and see you again in 3-6 months. Or they could tell you to make the changes and give you medication, then recheck your condition in a month. It depends on what other health conditions or risk factors you have.
  • If you have stage 2 hypertension — 140/90 or higher — youâll likely get medication. You’ll also need to make lifestyle changes and see the doctor again in a month.

How Often Should You Measure Blood Pressure

If you have normal blood pressure, and your doctor thinks you’re at a low risk for developing hypertension, you’ll likely only get your blood pressure measured once a year, at a routine check-up.

However, if you’re at risk or have hypertension, your doctor may recommend that you check blood pressure at home.

If you have a clinician-approved at-home blood pressure measuring kit, you should measure your blood pressure twice in the morning and twice in the evening, waiting a minute between readings, says Cohen.

Additionally, she says it’s important to calmly wait five minutes before measuring your blood pressure, as it can affect the accuracy of your reading.

“If you’re checking your blood pressure when you’re exercising, moving around, or without taking that five minute break, then it’s just not a useful blood pressure,” Cohen says.

Cohen recommends using a blood pressure measuring device from an accredited source, such as Validate BP. Devices are independently reviewed by experts associated with the American Heart Association to see which ones provide the best, clinically accurate results.

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Which Number Is More Important

Typically, more attention is given to systolic blood pressure as a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease for people over 50. In most people, systolic blood pressure rises steadily with age due to the increasing stiffness of large arteries, long-term buildup of plaque and an increased incidence of cardiac and vascular disease.

However, either an elevated systolic or an elevated diastolic blood pressure reading may be used to make a diagnosis of high blood pressure. According to recent studies, the risk of death from ischemic heart disease and stroke doubles with every 20 mm Hg systolic or 10 mm Hg diastolic increase among people from age 40 to 89.

Salt Intake And High Blood Pressure

Reading Blood Pressure

Reducing the amount of salt you eat can also help to manage or even avoid high blood pressure. To help reduce your salt intake:

  • Ensure your diet consists of wholefoods including vegetables, fruits, wholegrains, lean meat and poultry, fish and seafood, legumes, unsalted nuts and seeds.
  • Avoid packaged and processed foods that are high in salt. You cant see the salt in these foods, so you dont know how much salt you are having. Get into the habit of checking food labels.
  • Choose low-salt food where possible. If you cant find low-salt products, those with moderate amounts of salt are ok too. Another simple alternative is to look for labels with low salt, salt reduced or no added salt.
  • Avoid adding salt to cooking or at the table flavour meals with herbs and spices instead.

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Why Is High Blood Pressure So Bad

High blood pressure means your heart has to pump more forcefully to move your blood throughout your body. Over time, this damages your vessels, which makes them more likely to become clogged when fat in your bloodLDL, or bad cholesterolrolls on through.

As a result, plaque builds up in your arteries, which triggers inflammation throughout your body that can harm your heart, kidneys, brain, and blood vessels. This inflammation raises your risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, and other serious conditions.

“What’s happening is the rest of the body is feeling the effects of the higher pressure,” says Kevin Dunsky, M.D., director of cardiovascular practice development at Mount Sinai. “The higher it is, the more pounding the body is taking.”

High blood pressure probably wont cause you to die today, but its not setting you up for a very longor healthyfuture.

Thats because the cumulative effects of years of this problem can damage your body, says Dr. Campbell. Some issues, like harm to your vessels, can be reversed, but other problems, like damage to your kidneys may be permanent.

The goal of treatment, then, is to keep it from getting worseor prevent such damage in the first place.

Choosing A Home Blood Pressure Monitor

The American Heart Association recommends an automatic, cuff-style, bicep monitor.

  • Wrist and finger monitors are not recommended because they yield less reliable readings.
  • Choose a monitor that has been validated. If you are unsure, ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice or find options at
  • When selecting a blood pressure monitor for a senior, pregnant woman or child, make sure it is validated for these conditions.
  • Make sure the cuff fits measure around your upper arm and choose a monitor that comes with the correct size cuff.

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Recommended Blood Pressure Monitors


Williams B, Giuseppe M, Spiering W, et al. . 2018 ESC/ESH Guidelines for the management of arterial hypertension. Journal of Hypertension, 36. doi: 10.1097/HJH.0000000000001940

Bupa . High blood pressure. Retrieved from

Blood Pressure Association . Blood pressure chart. Retrieved from

What Are The Different Types Of High Blood Pressure

How to read your blood pressure and understand what it ...

There are two main types of high blood pressure: primary and secondary high blood pressure.:

  • Primary, or essential, high blood pressure is the most common type of high blood pressure. For most people who get this kind of blood pressure, it develops over time as you get older.
  • Secondary high blood pressure is caused by another medical condition or use of certain medicines. It usually gets better after you treat that condition or stop taking the medicines that are causing it.

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Is There Anything Else I Need To Know About A Blood Pressure Measurement

If you were diagnosed with high blood pressure, your provider may recommend one or more of the following lifestyle changes.

  • Exercise regularly. Staying active can help lower your blood pressure and also help manage your weight. Most adults should aim for 150 minutes of physical activity per week. Check with your provider before beginning an exercise program.
  • Keep a healthy weight. If you are overweight, losing as little as 5 pounds can lower your blood pressure.
  • Eat a healthy diet that includes fruits, vegetable, and whole grains. Limit foods high in saturated fat and total fat.
  • Reduce salt in your diet. Most adults should have less than 1500 mg of salt per day.
  • Limit alcohol use. If you choose to drink, limit yourself to one drink a day if you are a woman two drinks a day if you’re a man.
  • Don’t smoke.

Why Are There Two Numbers To A Blood Pressure Reading

A blood reading has two values: a systolic reading and diastolic reading. Systolic pressure is the higher number, its a measure of when your heart beats and pushes blood through the arteries. And diastolic pressure is measured when your heart is resting and filling with blood. So, for example, your blood pressure might be 120 over 80.

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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
  • Not smoking
  • 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 youve been told you have high blood pressure but do not have it under control.

How To Read Blood Pressure

Health & Nutrition : How to Interpret a Blood Pressure Reading

This article was co-authored by Timothy Sherman, RN. Timothy Sherman is a Registered Nurse based in Austin, Texas and affiliated with St. David’s HealthCare. With over seven years of nursing experience, Timothy specializes in working with adults in a general medical/surgical setting, chemotherapy, and with biotherapy administration. He has also instructed Essentials of Medical Terminology and Anatomy and Physiology for Medical Assistants at Austin Community College. He received his BS in Nursing from Wichita State University in 2012.There are 12 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, several readers have written to tell us that this article was helpful to them, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 143,622 times.

Your blood pressure shows how much your body has to work to pump blood to your organs. It can be low , normal, or high . Having hypotension or hypertension can cause medical conditions like heart disease or diminished brain function.XTrustworthy SourceMayo ClinicEducational website from one of the world’s leading hospitalsGo to source

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Healthy And Unhealthy Blood Pressure Ranges

Learn whats considered normal, as recommended by the American Heart Association.

Blood Pressure Chart


Note: A diagnosis of high blood pressure must be confirmed with a medical professional. A doctor should also evaluate any unusually low blood pressure readings.

The five blood pressure ranges as recognized by the American Heart Association are:

What Is High Blood Pressure

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 .

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.

The guidelines used to diagnose high blood pressure may differ from health care professional to health care professional:

  • Some health care professionals diagnose patients with high blood pressure if their blood pressure is consistently 140/90 mm Hg or higher.2 This limit is based on a guideline released in 2003, as seen in the table below.
  • Other health care professionals diagnose patients with high blood pressure if their blood pressure is consistently 130/80 mm Hg or higher.1 This limit is based on a guideline released in 2017, as seen in the table below.
systolic: 130 mm Hg or higherdiastolic: 80 mm Hg or higher

If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, talk with your health care team about your blood pressure levels and how these levels affect your treatment plan.

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Understanding Your Blood Pressure Reading

Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury and is given as 2 numbers:

  • systolic pressure the pressure when your heart pushes blood out
  • diastolic pressure the pressure when your heart rests between beats

The highest number is always the systolic pressure and it’s always given first. For example, a blood pressure given as “120 over 80” or 120/80mmHg means a systolic pressure of 120mmHg and a diastolic pressure of 80mmHg.

As a general guide:

  • normal blood pressure is considered to be between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg
  • high blood pressure is considered to be 140/90mmHg or higher
  • low blood pressure is considered to be 90/60mmHg or lower

If your reading is between 120/80mmHg and 140/90mmHg, you may be at risk of developing high blood pressure. There are things you can do to help prevent high blood pressure.

Why Do I Need A Blood Pressure Chart

DIET WHAT IT REALLY MEANS!!!!!!!!: Understanding Blood ...

Older persons, those with a hereditary predisposition, heart problems, or systemic diseases are all especially prone to high blood pressure. A blood pressure chart helps a person to monitor their individual values, to identify abnormalities early on, and to treat unhealthy blood pressure values at an early stage.

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