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What Do The 2 Numbers In Blood Pressure Mean

What Can I Do To Prevent Or Manage High Blood Pressure

Good Question: What Do Your Blood Pressure Numbers Mean?

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
  • 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 Numbers

Now lets explore the measurement. Blood pressure is always shown as two numbers. Use 120 over 80, which is written as 120/80 mm Hg , as an example. The 120 is the top number and is known as systolic blood pressure. It represents the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats. The 80 is the bottom number and is known as diastolic blood pressure. This is the pressure measured between your heartbeats when your heart is relaxing.

While both numbers are important, the American Heart Association notes the top number usually gets more attention. Thats because it helps show your risk of having a stroke or heart attack, along with kidney disease, congestive heart failure, vision loss and memory loss.

A high systolic reading is considered a major heart disease risk factor for people older than 50. As we age, arteries can become stiff and develop plaque buildup. In other words, if your blood is essentially punching the walls inside your heart, over and over again, damage will eventually occur.

Heres how the American Heart Association categorizes blood pressure levels.

  • Normal: systolic less than 120 and diastolic less than 80
  • Prehypertension: systolic 120-139 or diastolic 80-89
  • Stage 1 high blood pressure: systolic 140-159 or diastolic 90-99
  • Stage 2 high blood pressure: systolic 160 or higher or diastolic 100 or higher
  • Hypertensive crisis : systolic higher than 180 or diastolic higher than 110

Low blood pressure is typically not a problem unless you notice symptoms like:

What You Can Do

Treatment varies depending on your numbers, family history and other factors, such as whether youve had a heart attack or stroke, or whether you suffer from diabetes or kidney disease.

But everyone with elevated readings can benefit from lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, reducing alcohol and quitting smoking.

Like all lifestyle treatments, it takes a real commitment, Baker said.

This hard work does pay off, as results are usually seen in two or three months.

Ive seen people focus on their lifestyle and within three months, they see a five to 10 point drop, Baker said. You can see pretty quick results.

This article first appeared in the Steamboat Pilot & Today on Feb. 5, 2018.

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What Is Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of arteries as the heart pumps blood. When a health care professional measures your blood pressure, they use a blood pressure cuff around your arm that gradually tightens. The results are given in two numbers. The first number, called systolic blood pressure, is the pressure caused by your heart contracting and pushing out blood. The second number, called diastolic blood pressure, is the pressure when your heart relaxes and fills with blood.

A blood pressure reading is given as the systolic blood pressure number over the diastolic blood pressure number. Blood pressure levels are classified based on those two numbers.

  • Low blood pressure, or hypotension, is systolic blood pressure lower than 90 or diastolic blood pressure lower than 60. If you have low blood pressure, you may feel lightheaded, weak, dizzy, or even faint. It can be caused by not getting enough fluids, blood loss, some medical conditions, or medications, including those prescribed for high blood pressure.
  • Normal blood pressure for most adults is defined as a systolic pressure of less than 120 and a diastolic pressure of less than 80.
  • Elevated blood pressure is defined as a systolic pressure between 120 and 129 with a diastolic pressure of less than 80.
  • High blood pressure is defined as 130 or higher for the first number, or 80 or higher for the second number.

Can You Help Control Your Blood Pressure

What Does High Blood Pressure Mean

Yes, you can help. There are three things you can do: have a more active lifestyle, make healthy food choices, and, if needed, take your medicine every day as it is prescribed. With prehypertension, some people can bring blood pressure down to normal through weight loss, exercise and other changes for a healthy lifestyle. Medications are used to control high blood pressure. Medicines may be recommended for some people with prehypertension who also have other diseases, such as diabetes mellitus, chronic kidney disease and coronary artery disease.

If you have slightly high blood pressure, your doctor may suggest these steps:

  • lose weight if you are overweight,
  • get regular physical activity,
  • cut down on alcohol, and
  • change your food choices to those with less salt and fat

A special eating plan called DASH can help you lower your blood pressure. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The DASH eating plan emphasizes fruits, vegetables, fatfree or lowfat milk and milk products, wholegrain products, fish, poultry, beans, seeds, and nuts. The DASH eating plan also contains less salt/sodium, sweets, added sugars, sugar containing beverages, fats, and red meats than the typical American diet.

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Regularly Monitoring Your Blood Pressure

If you have any concerns or questions, you should discuss them with your doctor. Regardless, it is important to routinely check your blood pressure to watch for any changes over time. Furthermore, you should keep track of your blood pressure using a journal. There are many benefits to journaling. Not only does it let you record your readings so you dont have to remember everything, you can visualize your progress, achieve your goals, and stay motivated.

FitTrends mission is to help you along your journey of self improvement, promote an active lifestyle, and help you achieve your goals. Our journal can help you track your blood pressure automatically when you connect your Withings blood pressure device to your account. Create your account today and start using FitTrend for free!

High Blood Pressure Chart

and/or > 120 mm Hg

In these new guidelines, the AHA also advises that doctors should only prescribe medication in cases of a previous heart attack or stroke, or in the presence of risk factors for these conditions, such as age, a diabetes diagnosis, or chronic kidney disease.

Treatment at the earlier stages of high blood pressure should instead come mainly through lifestyle changes.

Circulation is similar to a highly sophisticated form of plumbing blood has flow, and arteries are pipes. A basic law of physics gives rise to blood flow, and this law also applies in a garden hose pipe.

Blood flows through the body because of a difference in pressure.

Blood pressure is highest at the start of its journey from the heart when it enters the aorta and it is lowest at the end of its journey along progressively smaller branches of arteries. That pressure difference is what causes blood to flow.

Arteries affect blood pressure in a similar way to the physical properties of a garden hose pipe affecting water pressure. Constricting the pipe increases pressure at the point of constriction.

Without the elastic nature of the artery walls, for example, the pressure of the blood would fall away more quickly as it is pumped from the heart.

While the heart creates the maximum pressure, the properties of the arteries are just as important to maintaining it and allowing blood to flow throughout the body.

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What Can Cause A Short

It’s normal for blood pressure to go up and down throughout the day. Things like exercise, stress, and sleeping can affect your blood pressure. Some medicines can cause a spike in blood pressure, including certain asthma medicines and cold remedies.

A low blood pressure reading can be caused by many things, including some medicines, a severe allergic reaction, or an infection. Another cause is dehydration, which is when your body loses too much fluid.

Why Your Blood Pressure Matters

Blood Pressure: How High is Too High and How Do I Lower it Safely?

When the heart beats, blood pulses through the arteries to travel throughout the body. However, it is not a steady stream like you might see from a garden hose.

The pulse of the blood flow and the pressure it exerts change from moment to moment. It’s highest during the heartbeat and lowest between heartbeats .

Providers measure blood pressure using these numbers because it is a standard way of describing the force of the pulsing blood.

Your systolic and diastolic blood pressures are both important. If the readings are too high, you could have high blood pressure. If the readings are too low, there may not be enough blood flowing to your brain and other organs.

Furthermore, if there are changes in the difference between the two numbers, it’s a clue that there could be a heart condition or other health problem.

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What Does High Blood Pressure Feel Like

High blood pressure often doesn’t have any symptoms, so you usually don’t feel it. Thats why its important to stay up to date on your preventive care screenings can help identify potential problems like elevated blood pressure when its easiest to treat.

If your blood pressure reaches extremely high levels, you may get a headache, shortness of breath or a nosebleed. However, these symptoms may not be specific to your blood pressure. Critically high blood pressure can be caused by conditions that can have similar symptoms, like strokes, heart attacks, heart failure, kidney failure or certain drug interactions.

What Numbers Mean High Blood Pressure What Numbers Mean Normal Blood Pressure

Normal blood pressure is at or under 120 over 80.

In November 2017, blood pressure guidelines were modified. Any blood pressure measurement at or above 130 over 80 is now considered high. And thats what we in the medical community call hypertension. These numbers are down from the old recommendation of 140 over 90.

In the past, many people in the United States were considered prehypertension. The new recommendations get rid of that category, and now almost half of U.S. adults fall into the category of hypertension. That could seem shocking. But patients who are in this category should already be discussing their blood pressure numbers with their primary care doctor. If they arent, now is a good time to connect with their medical provider and come up with a plan for treatment.

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Normal Blood Pressure Range

A normal blood pressure reading indicates that the heart and blood vessels are not working too hard pushing blood and that the blood is not exerting too much pressure on the walls of the vessels, says Aseem Desai, M.D., a cardiologist at Providence Mission Hospital in Southern California. Recent data from the American Heart Association suggests the optimal normal reading for adults over 20 is lower than 120/80 mmHgVirani S, et al. Heart disease and stroke statistics 2021 update . American Heart Association Journal. 2021 143:e254-e743. .

Dr. Desai notes blood pressure can vary depending on a persons age, gender, race and ethnicity, but it should still fall within the general normal range. While numbers lower than 120/80 are generally considered normal, Dr. Desai adds, The target blood pressure for treatment varies depending on age and associated co-morbidities .

Previously, guidance for normal blood pressure for adults varied by gender and specific age, but new data states normal blood pressure for adults as a collective is less than 120/80 mmHgHigh Blood Pressure Symptoms and Causes. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed 7/16/2021. .

When it comes to race and ethnicity, Dr. Desai says certain groups have a higher rate of hypertension. Non-Hispanic Black people have a significantly higher rate of hypertension compared to non-Hispanic white people, and Hispanics and non-Hispanic Asians have lower rates than the first two, he says.

What Is Mean Arterial Pressure

Time for a blood pressure check?

Automatic blood pressure monitors give you a systolic and diastolic blood pressure reading. Many of them also include a small number in parentheses underneath or beside your standard blood pressure reading. This number in parentheses is the mean arterial pressure .

MAP is a calculation that doctors use to check whether theres enough blood flow, resistance, and pressure to supply blood to all your major organs.

Resistance refers to the way the width of a blood vessel impacts blood flow. For example, its harder for blood to flow through a narrow artery. As resistance in your arteries increases, blood pressure also increases while the flow of blood decreases.

You can also think of MAP as the average pressure in your arteries throughout one cardiac cycle, which includes the series of events that happen every time your heart beats.

Keep reading to learn more about the normal, high, and low ranges of MAP and what they mean.

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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.

Does The Atkins Diet Lower Blood Pressure

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What Does High Or Low Diastolic Blood Pressure Indicate

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Heart Rate And Exercise

High Blood Pressure: How to Understand the Numbers

In discussions about high blood pressure, you will often see heart rate mentioned in relation to exercise. Your target heart rate is based on age and can help you monitor the intensity of your exercise.

  • If you measure your heart rate before, during and after physical activity, youll notice it will increase over the course of the exercise.
  • The greater the intensity of the exercise, the more your heart rate will increase.
  • When you stop exercising, your heart rate does not immediately return to your normal heart rate.
  • The more fit you are, the sooner your heart rate will return to normal.

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How Is It Treated

For most people, the goal is to reduce the blood pressure to less than 140/90. If you have diabetes or kidney disease, the goal is less than 130/80 mm Hg.

If your blood pressure is above normal , you may be able to bring it down to a normal level without medicine. Weight loss, changes in your diet, and exercise may be the only treatment you need. If you also have diabetes, you may need additional treatment.

If these lifestyle changes do not lower your blood pressure enough, your healthcare provider may prescribe medicine. Some of the types of medicines that can help are diuretics, beta blockers, ACE inhibitors, calcium channel blockers, and vasodilators. These medicines work in different ways. Many people need to take 2 or more medicines to bring their blood pressure down to a healthy level.

When you start taking medicine, it is important to:

  • Take the medicine regularly, exactly as prescribed.
  • Tell your healthcare provider about any side effects right away.
  • Have regular follow-up visits with your healthcare provider.

It may not be possible to know at first which drug or mix of drugs will work best for you. It may take several weeks or months to find the best treatment for you.

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