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What Do The Blood Pressure Numbers Measure

High Systolic Blood Pressure

Blood Pressure Numbers and Measurement Explained Simply

The heart muscle pushes out blood with higher pressure when a person is exercising, under stress, or at similar times when the heart rate is increased. The systolic pressure goes up with it.

In these cases, the increased pressure is normal. However, when the pressure is high while a person is resting, that’s considered high blood pressure.

That’s why it is so important to take your blood pressure during periods of quiet rest to diagnose hypertension, or high blood pressure.

High systolic blood pressure is usually caused by narrowing of the arteries, which makes the heart have to work harder to push blood through.

Variations In Blood Pressure

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.

How Can You Reduce Your Risk Of High Blood Pressure

Fortunately, there are certain things you can do to help reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure. These include the following:

  • Eat right: A healthy diet is an important step in keeping your blood pressure normal. The DASH diet emphasizes adding fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to your diet while reducing the amount of sodium. Since it is rich in fruits and vegetables, which are naturally lower in sodium than many other foods, the DASH diet makes it easier to eat less salt and sodium.
  • Keep a healthy weight: Going hand-in-hand with a proper diet is keeping a healthy weight. Since being overweight increases your blood pressure, losing excess weight with diet and exercise will help lower your blood pressure to healthier levels.
  • Cut down on salt: The recommendation for salt in your diet is to have less than 2,400 milligrams of sodium a day . To prevent hypertension, you should keep your salt intake below this level. Don’t forget that most restaurant foods and many processed and frozen foods contain high levels of salt. Use herbs and spices that do not contain salt in recipes to flavor your food do not add salt at the table.
  • Keep active: Even simple physical activities, such as walking, can lower your blood pressure .
  • Drinkalcoholin moderation: Having more than one drink a day and two drinks a day can raise blood pressure.

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Measuring Blood Pressure With A Sphygmomanometer

A sphygmomanometer has three parts:

  • a cuff that can be inflated with air,
  • a pressure meter for measuring air pressure in the cuff, and
  • a stethoscope for listening to the sound the blood makes as it flows through the brachial artery .

The scale of the pressure meter ranges from 0 to 300 mmHg. The pressure meter has a rubber pump on it for inflating the cuff and a button for letting the air out.

To measure blood pressure, the cuff is placed around the bare and stretched out upper arm, and inflated until no blood can flow through the brachial artery. Then the air is slowly let out of the cuff.

As soon as the air pressure in the cuff falls below the systolic blood pressure in the brachial artery, blood will start to flow through the arm once again. This creates a pounding sound when the arteries close again and the walls of the vessels hit each other after a heart beat. The sound can be heard by placing the stethoscope close to the elbow. Right when you start to hear this pounding for the first time you can read your systolic blood pressure off the pressure meter.

The pounding sound stops when the air pressure in the cuff falls below the diastolic blood pressure in the brachial artery. Then the blood vessels remain open. Right when the pounding stops, you can read the diastolic blood pressure off the pressure meter.

Dangers Of Low Blood Pressure

What Do Blood Pressure Readings Mean?

Low blood pressure may not be discussed as often as high blood pressure, but it should be addressed, as prolonged low blood pressure can negatively affect your organs.

A certain amount of blood pressure is needed to maintain blood flow to the organs, says Dr. Wong. The blood supplies oxygen and nutrients to these organs. If the blood pressure is too low, an adequate blood supply cannot get to these organs.

If left untreated, low blood pressure can increase your risk of fainting, heart attack and organ damage, adds Dr. Desai.

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Diagnosing High Or Low Blood Pressure

Only one of your numbers needs to be higher than it should be to be diagnosed with high blood pressure, and only one needs to be lower than it should be to be diagnosed with low blood pressure.

So if your top number is over 140 or the bottom number is over 90, you may be diagnosed with high blood pressure, regardless of the other number. If your top number is under 90 or your bottom number is under 60, you may be diagnosed with low blood pressure. Use the chart to see where your numbers sit.

If your top number is consistently higher than 140mmHg, but the bottom number is healthy – this is known as Isolated Systolic Hypertension. If the bottom number is consistently higher than 90mmHg but the top number is healthy – this is known as Isolated Diastolic Hypertension.

Making sure your readings arent a one-off

A single high reading doesnt necessarily mean you have high blood pressure, as many things can affect your blood pressure throughout the day, such as the temperature, when you last ate, and if youre feeling stressed.

Your doctor or nurse will probably want to measure your blood pressure a number of times over a few weeks to make sure the reading wasnt just a one off and that your blood pressure stays high over time.

Read about how high blood pressure is diagnosed, getting a blood pressure check, the further tests you might have if you have a high blood pressure reading, and what it means if youre diagnosed with high blood pressure.

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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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What Should I Do If I Have High Blood Pressure

If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, you and your healthcare provider will talk about your target blood pressure. Your provider may suggest that you:

  • Check your own blood pressure regularly with a home blood pressure monitor. These electronic monitors are available at most pharmacies or online.
  • Work on controlling anger and managing stress.

The ‘bottom’ Blood Pressure Number Matters Too

Blood Pressure Numbers: What Do They Mean?

HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, July 18, 2019 — When it comes to blood pressure readings, the “top” number seems to grab all the attention.

But a large, new study confirms that both numbers are, in fact, critical in determining the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Blood pressure measurements are given as a “top” and “bottom” number. The first reflects systolic blood pressure, the amount of pressure in the arteries as the heart contracts. The second reflects diastolic blood pressure, the pressure in the arteries between heart muscle contractions.

For years, systolic blood pressure has been seen as the one that really matters. That’s based on studies — including the famous Framingham Heart Study — showing that high systolic blood pressure is a stronger predictor of heart disease and stroke.

At the same time, though, doctors measure both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and treatment guidelines are based on both. So just how important is that diastolic number?

“The idea behind this new study was to address the confusion,” said lead researcher Dr. Alexander Flint, an investigator with Kaiser Permanente Northern California’s division of research.

Using medical records from 1.3 million patients, his team confirmed that, yes, high systolic blood pressure was a stronger risk factor for heart attack and stroke. But those risks also climbed in tandem with diastolic pressure and people with normal systolic readings were still at risk if their diastolic pressure was high.

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What Do Blood Pressure Readings Mean

Heart Health , Article

When you see your doctor, it seems like one of the first things they do is check your blood pressure readings. Even pharmacies and grocery stores have blood pressure machines for you to check your pressure on your own. So checking your blood pressure must be important, right? But what are those numbers actually telling you?

What Is Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure is the force that moves blood through your body. It is driven by the heart, and it changes as the heart muscle contracts and relaxes. There are two numbers involved in a blood pressure reading. The first is known as “systolic,” and it measures the pressure when the heart muscle contracts. The second number is known as “diastolic,” and it’s the measurement of the pressure when the heart muscle is at rest. Blood pressure is read with the systolic number over the diastolic , and it’s measured in millimeters of mercury, or mm Hg. According to Continuing Education in Anaesthesia, Critical Care & Pain, Mercury is used because it is 13.6 times denser than water and therefore allows the instruments used in blood pressure readings to be smaller and more manageable for your doctor. A normal blood pressure reading, according to the American Heart Association, is a systolic number below 120 and a diastolic number under 80. This reading is typically read as 120/80, or 120 over 80 millimeters of mercury.

Hypertension

Hypotension

Measuring Blood Pressure

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.

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Get Regular Blood Pressure Checks

If your blood pressure is in the healthy range and you have no other risk factors for cardiovascular disease, and no personal or family history of high blood pressure, it is still important to have a check at least every two years. Your doctor can also check your blood pressure during routine visits.

If your blood pressure is highnormal , or if you have other risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as a personal or family history of high blood pressure, stroke or heart attack, it is best to have it checked more frequently such as every 6 to 12 months or as directed by your doctor. Ask your doctor for advice.

The Basics Of Blood Pressure

Blood Pressure Chart: What Do Your Numbers Mean?  Healthy ...

A blood pressure reading is made up of two numbers expressed as a fraction. The top number, or systolic pressure, measures how much pressure is in the arteries when the heart contracts. The bottom number, or diastolic pressure, measures the blood pressure between beats.

When your heart pumps, all that blood rushes and fills your arteries, Baker said. Its just like plumbing: if youre pumping more water into the system, the pressure inside the plumbing goes up. Thats your systolic reading. When the heart relaxes and fills, the reading falls and you get the lower number, or your diastolic reading.

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When Should I Get My Blood Pressure Tested

You can ask for a blood pressure test if you’re worried about your blood pressure at any point.

You can get your blood pressure tested at a number of places, including:

  • your local GP surgery
  • at home
  • at an NHS Health Check appointment offered to adults in England aged 40-74

It’s recommended that all adults over 40 years of age have their blood pressure tested at least every 5 years so any potential problems can be detected early.

If you’ve already been diagnosed with high or low blood pressure, or you’re at a particularly high risk of these problems, you may need to have more frequent tests to monitor your blood pressure.

Signs And Symptoms Of High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure may not have any symptoms and so hypertension has been labeled “the silent killer.” Longstanding high blood pressure can lead to multiple complications including heart attack, kidney disease, or stroke.

Some people experience symptoms with their high blood pressure. These symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • The Feeling of pulsations in the neck or head
  • Nausea

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How To Measure Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury, mmHg. It consists of two numbers, such as 130/80, which we say as 130 over 80. The first is your systolic blood pressure, the maximum pressure your blood attains as your heart beats and pushes it around your body. The second is your diastolic pressure, the minimum level it reaches between beats.

How Can I Be More Active

Blood Pressure Measurement: How to Check Blood Pressure Manually
  • Check first with your healthcare provider before increasing your physical activity. Ask your provider what type and amount of exercise is right for you.
  • Choose aerobic activities such as walking, biking or swimming.
  • Start slowly and increase activity gradually. Aim for a regular routine of activity 5 times a week for 30 to 45 minutes each session.

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Variable Or Fluctuating Blood Pressure

Some fluctuation or variation in blood pressure is normal. Variations in pressure that are significantly greater than the norm are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease brain small vessel disease, and dementia independent of the average blood pressure level. Recent evidence from clinical trials has also linked variation in blood pressure to stroke, heart failure, and cardiac changes that may give rise to heart failure. These data have prompted discussion of whether excessive variation in blood pressure should be treated, even among normotensive older adults. Older individuals and those who had received blood pressure medications are more likely to exhibit larger fluctuations in pressure, and there is some evidence that different antihypertensive agents have different effects on blood pressure variability whether these differences translate to benefits in outcome is uncertain.

Importance Of Blood Pressure Readings

Blood pressure readings can reveal abnormal pressure in a person without symptoms, as well as help monitor blood pressure control during treatment. There are four categories of blood pressure measurements: normal, prehypertension, stage 1 hypertension, and stage 2 hypertension. Low blood pressure is usually not serious, but high blood pressure negatively affects ones overall health. High blood pressure puts a strain on the heart, arteries, and kidneys. If left untreated, it can eventually result in heart attack, stroke, coronary artery disease, heart failure, or kidney damage.

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What Are The Different Blood Pressure Categories

Blood pressure can be categorized into five different types, namely:

Normal: Blood pressure below 120/80 mm Hg is considered to be normal.

Elevated: When blood pressure readings consistently range from 120 to 129 systolic and less than 80 mm Hg diastolic, it is known as elevated blood pressure. People with elevated blood pressure are at risk of high blood pressure unless steps are taken to control it.

Hypertension stage I: In this condition, blood pressure readings consistently range from 130 to 139 systolic or 80 to 89 mm Hg diastolic. Doctors may prescribe blood pressure medications and some lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of heart diseases and stroke.

Hypertension stage II: In this condition, blood pressure readings consistently range from 140/90 mm Hg or higher. The doctors may prescribe a combination of both medications and lifestyle changes.

Hypertensive crisis: This is the most critical condition and requires emergency medical attention. In this condition, the blood pressure suddenly exceeds 180/120 mm Hg. Contact the physician immediately if the following symptoms are experienced:

  • Difficulty speaking

What Causes High Blood Pressure

Blood Pressure

High blood pressure usually develops over time. It can happen because of unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as not getting enough regular physical activity. Certain health conditions, such as diabetes and having obesity, can also increase the risk for developing high blood pressure. High blood pressure can also happen during pregnancy.

You can manage your blood pressure to lower your risk for serious health problems that may affect your heart, brain, kidneys, and eyes.

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What Does A Blood Pressure Reading Look Like

When you have your blood pressure measured, you will be given two numbers, a top number and a bottom number.

  • Systolic blood pressure. This is the first, or top, number. This is the highest level your blood pressure reaches when your heart beats, forcing blood around your body.
  • Diastolic blood pressure. The second number, or bottom number, is the lowest level your blood pressure reaches as your heart relaxes between beats.

Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury . If the first number is 120 and the second number is 80, this would be written as 120/80mmHg, and youd call it 120 over 80.

This video explains more about systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

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