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How To Understand Blood Pressure

What Is Systolic Blood Pressure

Understanding Blood Pressure (Subtitles)

During a heartbeat, the heart is pushing blood out into the arteries. Doctors call this “systole,” and that’s why it’s called the systolic blood pressure. It’s the pressure during a heartbeat and the highest pressure measured.

When the reading is 120 mmHg or a little below while a person is sitting quietly at rest, the systolic blood pressure is considered normal.

How Do You Bring Down Blood Pressure Naturally

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Quick Guide To Understanding Blood Pressure Readings

Its a common occurrence to have your blood pressure taken just about every time you visit a clinic or doctors office. You sit in the chair with the cuff around your arm, patiently waiting while the cuff contracts and expands. Once its finished, the doctor or nurse gives you a couple of numbers. Have you ever wondered what they mean? If youve ever been afraid to ask, or just want to understand your blood pressure better, the quick guide below can help.

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Medications For High Blood Pressure

There is a large variety of medicines available to lower and manage high blood pressure. Your doctor may call them antihypertensives, .

These medications do not cure high blood pressure, but they do help manage it. Once you start to take medicines to manage your blood pressure, you may need to take them for the rest of your life. However, the dose of these medicines may change over time.

If you need to take medication, your doctor will advise you on the correct type and dose. Two or more different medications are often needed to manage blood pressure.

Make sure you take your medicines regularly. Some things that may help you remember to take them include:

  • Building them into your daily routine by taking them at the same time each day.
  • Keeping them somewhere that will remind you such as next to your alarm, or with your coffee or tea.
  • Using a weekly pill box.
  • Asking a family member or friend to remind you.
  • Always carrying a list of your medicines and their doses with you.
  • Entering a daily alarm in your mobile phone or download an app to remind you.

Take any blood pressure medicine exactly as prescribed. Dont stop or change your medicine, unless your doctor advises you to.

Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring

Blood Pressure Readings Explained

In some cases, your doctor may recommend 24-hour or ambulatory blood pressure monitoring .

This is where your blood pressure is tested automatically around every 30 minutes over a 24-hour period using a cuff attached to a portable device worn on your waist.

ABPM can help to give a clear picture of how your blood pressure changes over the course of a day.

You should continue with your normal daily activities during the test, although you must avoid getting the equipment wet.

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What Is The Best Blood Pressure Monitoring Machine

Omron HEM780N shoulder blood pressure monitor. Another sleeve machine is the Omron HEM780N. It is recognized as one of the best and most accurate sensors with more than 680 reviews. Some reviewers have concluded that it is well calibrated with a hospital blood pressure monitor. It is known for being ideal for large weapons and home use.

What Is Diastolic Blood Pressure

The heart rests between beats so it can refill with blood. Doctors call this pause between beats “diastole.” Your diastolic blood pressure is the measurement during this pause before the next heartbeat.

A normal diastolic blood pressure during quiet rest is 80 mmHg or a little below. If you have high blood pressure, the diastolic number is often higher even during quiet rest.

Low diastolic pressure may be seen with dehydration or with severe bleeding. It also may happen if the arteries relax and widen.

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Cardiology : What Does Blood Pressure Really Mean

We have all had our blood pressure taken at a regular doctor visit however most of us dont truly understand why those numbers are so important. Having high blood pressure is a big health concern, but what does it all really mean?

What is blood pressure?

In the most basic terms, when your heart beats, it pumps blood throughout your body, supplying it with the oxygen and energy it needs. As your blood moves, it pushes against the sides of your blood vessels. The strength of this pushing is what is known as blood pressure.

When you have your blood pressure reading it consists of two numbers, presented as one number over the other, like a fraction. The first or top number is your systolic blood pressure. This is the amount of pressure in your arteries during the contraction of your heart muscle. The second or bottom number is your diastolic blood pressure. This is the lowest level your blood pressure reaches as your heart relaxes between beats. The numeric difference between your systolic and diastolic blood pressure is called your pulse pressure. For example, the pulse pressure reading for a person whose blood pressure is 120/80, would be 40. Along with blood pressure, pulse pressure can also provide insight into your heart health. In some cases a low pulse pressure may indicate poor heart function, while a higher pulse pressure may reflect leaky heart valves, often as a result of age-related losses in aortic elasticity.

What is a healthy blood pressure?

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Checking Blood Pressure At Home

High Blood Pressure: How to Understand the Numbers

Keeping track of blood pressure at home is important for many people, especially if you have high blood pressure. This helps you and your doctor find out if your treatment is working.

Your doctor may also suggest that you check your pressure at home if they think you may have “white coat hypertension.” It’s a real condition. The stress of being in a doctor’s office raises your blood pressure, but when you’re home, it’s normal.

Ask your doctor to recommend an easy-to-use home blood pressure monitor. Make sure the cuff fits properly. If your arm is too big for the cuff, the reading may be higher than your blood pressure really is. Ask your doctor for a larger cuff or make sure you buy a home monitor with a cuff that fits you.

You also can use a wrist blood pressure monitor, but they often aren’t as accurate. Follow the directions that come with the device to make sure you are using it correctly.

No matter which type of blood pressure monitor you have, it’s a good idea to take it to your doctor’s office. You can compare its reading to the numbers your doctor gets. Avoid caffeine, cigarettes, and exercise for at least 30 minutes before the test.

When you take your blood pressure at home, sit up straight in a chair and put both feet on the floor. Ask your doctor or nurse to show you the right way to position your arm so you get accurate readings.

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Your Blood Pressure Numbers And What They Mean

Your blood pressure is recorded as two numbers:

  • Systolic blood pressure indicates how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls when the heart beats.
  • Diastolic blood pressure indicates how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls while the heart is resting between beats.

Blood Pressure Readings Explained

What do the numbers mean?

Everyone would like to have healthy blood pressure. But what exactly does that mean?

When your doctor takes your blood pressure, its expressed as a measurement with two numbers, with one number on top and one on the bottom , like a fraction. For example, 120/80 mm Hg.

The top number refers to the amount of pressure in your arteries during the contraction of your heart muscle. This is called systolic pressure.

The bottom number refers to your blood pressure when your heart muscle is between beats. This is called diastolic pressure.

Both numbers are important in determining the state of your heart health.

Numbers greater than the ideal range indicate that your heart is working too hard to pump blood to the rest of your body.

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Understanding Blood Pressure Readings

  • Understanding Blood Pressure Readings

Do you suffer from high blood pressure? It might be surprising, but high blood pressure or hypertension is actually one of the most commonly diagnosed health conditions for Americans. In fact, it is reported that 68 million Americans are currently living with high blood pressure.

Of equal concern is that, within this population, it is estimated that nearly 20% have yet to be diagnosed and are not aware of the potential problem. Undiagnosed cases of high blood pressure are a real concern as damage caused by high blood pressure takes place slowly over time.

Left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to things like heart attack, stroke, heart failure, kidney disease, vision loss and a host of other problems. In this article, we will unpack blood pressure and explain how to interpret readings you may get from a blood pressure monitor. Knowing if you have high blood pressure is extremely important. Taking accurate blood pressure readings and correctly understanding the results of those tests are crucial.

Why Should I Monitor My Blood Pressure At Home

Magnesium: A Natural Treatment for High Blood Pressure

Even if your doctor takes your blood pressure in the clinic, monitoring your blood pressure at home can be useful whether or not you have hypertension.

  • It can tell you if your blood pressure is changing over time, which is important because your risk for hypertension increases as you age.

  • It can come in handy while youre exercising, and tell you if youre exercising at a healthy and safe intensity level.

  • If your doctor suspects that you have hypertension, it can give them a better sense of what your blood pressure is like on a normal basis.

  • If you have hypertension, it can help your doctor see if your treatment plan is working. Current guidelines recommend that patients with hypertension aim for a blood pressure lower than 130/80 mmHg, with the help of lifestyle changes and medications.

  • If you take blood pressure medications, it can be especially helpful if you experience symptoms like headaches or dizziness. Low blood pressure readings during those times can alert your doctor to adjust the dose of your medication or give you a different drug to try. No matter what, do not change how youre taking your medications without talking to your doctor. Call your doctor immediately if you find that your blood pressure is too high or too low, or if you experience symptoms like headaches, dizziness, or fainting.

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How To Understand Blood Pressure Readings

Understanding the numbers

You might have heard that the normal blood pressure reading should be around 180/20 mm Hg. So, what exactly does this mean? Well, these two numbers signify systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Systolic blood pressure refers to the pressure applied by the blood vessels on the constricted arteries every time your heartbeats. The normal level for this is around 120 or below. Diastolic blood pressure is the pressure applied on the arteries when the heart rests between two beats. At this point in time, the heart is filled with blood and receives oxygen. The normal level for this has to be below 80. Both of these parameters are useful, as they indicate how healthy your heart is at the moment.

Striving for a normal reading

Red flags

If your systolic blood pressure is between 120 to 129 and your diastolic blood pressure is slightly above 80, then you have slipped into the risky zone. It is not medically considered as high blood pressure, but it is a warning signal for you to inculcate healthier habits and take better care of your heart. If you want to cut down your chances of heart attacks or strokes at this stage, then watching your weight and eating healthy food should definitely become your new mantra.

Hypertension

Low blood pressure

Why Does Your Blood Pressure Change

Our blood pressure does a little jig throughout the dayrise and dip, rise and dipbecause its ruled by your circadian rhythm. It slowly rises a few hours before you wake up, peaks in the afternoon, and is at its lowest while you sleep. Your BP will also adjust based on your oxygen needs: If your body needs more oxygen, as when youre exercising or digesting food, itll spike slightly.

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How To Get An Accurate Blood Pressure Reading

Blood pressure is temperamentaleven a minor factor such as racing to your appointment can create an inaccurate reading, which can lead to overtreatment or undertreatment by your doc. Follow this advice to make sure you get the most accurate reading possible.

Slow down: Rushing to your doctors office can elevate your blood pressure, which may throw off your reading. Plan to arrive early so you can sit calmly in the waiting room for about five minutes, then keep quiet while your pressure is taken even small talk can up your systolic reading by 10 to 15 mm Hg. If you suffer from white coat syndromegetting anxious in medical settingsspeak up, because being stressed can lead to a higher reading than when youre not.

Prep properly: Skip coffee until after your appointment because caffeine may temporarily spike your blood pressure. And take a trip to the bathroom before entering the exam rooma full bladder can stimulate an adrenaline-like hormone that often raises BP.

Watch your posture: Sit with your feet flat on the floorcrossed legs or dangling feet can bump up systolic results. Be sure your arm is supported and at heart level, as diastolic pressure is affected by arm position. Ask if you can sit in a chair instead of on the exam table so as to keep your arm supported at the correct height.

Best Blood Pressure Numbers

Understanding Blood Pressure

Blood pressure values below 120/80 mm Hg. art. They are considered normal. If your results fall into this category, stick to heart-healthy habits such as a balanced diet and regular exercise. High blood pressure occurs when the reading fluctuates constantly from a systolic value of 120-129 to a diastolic value of less than 80 mm Hg.

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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.

Why Monitor At Home

There are a few reasons why you may be monitoring your blood pressure at home.

  • It can increase accountability and motivation, just as weighing for yourself when trying to lose weight can do.
  • Having so many readings gives you the opportunity to learn your personal patterns and what may affect your blood pressure. Using Lark can increase your understanding as it explains trends and offers insights.
  • Creates a history that you can show your doctor in case treatment or prescriptions need to change. Lark also helps with this as your history is easy to send to your doctor.

Participants in Lark who used a home blood pressure monitor along with Larks health coaching, on average, experienced a decrease in systolic blood pressure of over 8 mm Hg thats enough to reduce the risk of a stroke by over 30%!

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How Blood Pressure Is Tested

A device called a sphygmomanometer will be used to measure your blood pressure.

This usually consists of a stethoscope, arm cuff, pump and dial, although automatic devices that use sensors and have a digital display are also commonly used nowadays.

It’s best to sit down with your back supported and legs uncrossed for the test. You’ll usually need to roll up your sleeves or remove any long-sleeved clothing, so the cuff can be placed around your upper arm. Try to relax and avoid talking while the test is carried out.

During the test:

  • you hold out one of your arms so it’s at the same level as your heart, and the cuff is placed around it your arm should be supported in this position, such as with a cushion or arm of a chair
  • the cuff is pumped up to restrict the blood flow in your arm this squeezing may feel a bit uncomfortable, but only lasts a few seconds
  • the pressure in the cuff is slowly released while a stethoscope is used to listen to your pulse
  • the pressure in the cuff is recorded at 2 points as the blood flow starts to return to your arm these measurements are used to give your blood pressure reading

You can usually find out your result straight away, either from the healthcare professional carrying out the test or on the digital display.

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