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What Do The Numbers In Blood Pressure Mean

The Blood Pressure Chart

Good Question: What Do Your Blood Pressure Numbers Mean?

Once you know your numbers, you can use the blood pressure chart to see what they mean and if your blood pressure is in the healthy range. The chart is suitable for adults of any age, as the cut-off point for diagnosing high blood pressure doesnt change with age.

How to use the blood pressure chart

Simply find your top number on the left side of the chart and your bottom number on the bottom. Where the two lines meet is your blood pressure.

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What The Blood Pressure Numbers Depend On

The blood pressure numbers at the time of the measurement are influenced by various factors 3. What does blood pressure numbers depend on?

Blood pressure numbers depend on the following:

  • The amount of blood the heart is pumping through the circulatory system.
  • The resistance of the arteries to blood flow.
  • Arterial stiffness.
  • Health, emotional state and activity.
  • Baroreceptors.

In the short term, blood pressure is regulated by baroreceptors which constantly monitor the body. Baroreceptors are special receptors that detect changes in blood pressure. They are found within the walls of the blood vessels.

High Blood Pressure Symptoms

High blood pressure is known as the silent killer because it typically has no symptoms. In fact, most people dont even realize they have hypertension until their blood pressure is monitored.

Symptoms dont develop until the numbers get very high and organs get damaged, often irreversibly, says Dr. Desai.

If you have severe hypertension, you might notice the below symptoms, some of which were reported by patients in a study in the British Journal of General PracticeGoodhart A. Hypertension from the patients perspective. British Journal of General Practice. 2016 66:570. :

  • Headaches

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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

What does your blood pressure mean for your health ...

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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Blood Pressure: What Your Numbers Mean For Your Health

In 2017, leading heart experts redefined high blood pressure for the first time in 14 years. These new blood pressure guidelines from the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association give a lower definition of high blood pressure. According to the ACC, this new definition may result in nearly half of U.S. adults being diagnosed with the condition.

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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.

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What If Lifestyle Changes Dont Help Lower My Blood Pressure

If diet, exercise and other lifestyle changes dont work to lower your blood pressure, your healthcare provider will prescribe medications to help lower your blood pressure. Your provider will take into account other conditions you may have, such as heart or kidney disease and other drugs youre taking when prescribing medications to treat your high blood pressure. Be sure to follow your providers dosing directions exactly.

The New Blood Pressure Guidelines

What do the numbers mean on Blood Pressure? | Gina Eubank

The new blood pressure guidelines changed the meaning of the blood pressure numbers 4. How did the new numbers for blood pressure readings change?

  • Before the new guidelines Normal Blood Pressure was under 140/90. Normal Blood Pressure is now under 120/80.
  • Previous guidelines classified 140/90 mmHg as High Blood Pressure Stage 1 hypertension. This level is now classified as High Blood Pressure Stage 2 hypertension.
  • High blood pressure is now defined as readings of 130 mmHg and higher for the systolic blood pressure measurement or readings of 80 and higher for the diastolic measurement. That is a change from the old definition of 140/90 and higher.
  • The new guidelines eliminate the category of prehypertension. This was used for blood pressures with a higher number between 120-139 mm Hg or a lower number between 80-89 mm Hg. People with those readings will now be classified as having either Elevated or High Blood Pressure Stage I .

When did the new blood pressure guidelines change? In 2017 new blood pressure guidelines were released that replaced the Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee issued in 2003 and overseen by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

Why were blood pressure guidelines changed? The blood pressure guidelines were changed for the following:

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What Can Parents Do

Ask your doctor to measure your childs blood pressure starting at age 3. Helping children keep a healthy weight, eat nutritious foods, and get regular physical activity can lower their blood pressure and reduce their risk for cardiovascular disease later in life. Try these tips to help your child keep a healthy weight and normal blood pressure:

Food and Drinks

Physical Activity

Healthy Weight

Get Involved

Stroke And Brain Problems

High blood pressure can cause the arteries that supply blood and oxygen to the brain to burst or be blocked, causing a stroke. Brain cells die during a stroke because they do not get enough oxygen. Stroke can cause serious disabilities in speech, movement, and other basic activities. A stroke can also kill you.

Having high blood pressure, especially in midlife, is linked to having poorer cognitive function and dementia later in life. Learn more about the link between high blood pressure and dementia from the National Institutes of Healths Mind Your Risks®external icon campaign.

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What Do The Numbers On Your Blood Pressure Reading Mean

When one of our doctors measures your blood pressure, he or she will give you two numbers. One is the systolic number . This is the number that is stated first. The second number is the diastolic number. For example, if your doctor says your blood pressure is 120 over 80, the first number, 120, is the systolic number, and the second number of your blood pressure reading is the diastolic number . An easy way to remember it is that both diastolic and down begin with d.

  • The systolic blood pressure shows how much pressure your blood pushes against your arteries during a heartbeat.
  • The diastolic number measures the pressure when the heart is at rest.

While both numbers are very important, physicians examine the top number as a major risk factor, and maydepending upon the individual situationgive more attention to it. However, if either the upper or lower number is elevated, your internist can make a diagnosis of high blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association.

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 build-up of plaque and an increased incidence of cardiac and vascular disease.

The Basics Of Blood Pressure

What do blood pressure readings mean?

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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Normal Blood Pressure For Children

Normal BP ranges vary in children by age. The University of Iowa Stead Family Childrens Hospital provides this chart:

Normal Blood Pressure for Children
112128 mm Hg 6680 mm Hg

What is considered healthy for your child also varies by height, age, and sex. You can use Baylor College of Medicines calculator to see if your childs blood pressure reading is in a healthy range.

Why Its Important To Have Your Blood Pressure Checked

High blood pressure is sometimes called a silent killer because it doesnt cause symptoms and wont be caught without regular blood pressure readings, explains Dr. Dadabhoy. Having high blood pressure makes you four times more likely to die from a stroke and three times more likely to die from heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .

Dr. Dadabhoy says that the only way to know whether you have high blood pressure is to have it checked. Most likely, your blood pressure is measured and recorded every time you go to your health care providers office. And, keep in mind, just because you feel “healthy” doesn’t mean you can ignore your doctor’s warnings about elevated blood pressure. Everyone’s blood pressure matters, even if you’re young.

It’s important to talk with your doctor about the new high blood pressure guidelines and how they may impact treatment for your personal health situation. The goal is that by defining high blood pressure at a lower threshold, people will start working with their health care providers sooner to find ways to successfully manage the condition through lifestyle changes.

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What Do The Blood Pressure Numbers Mean

When you get a blood pressure reading, youll see two numbers. The first number is your systolic blood pressure. Systolic blood pressure refers to the pressure in your artery walls when your heart contracts . The second number is your diastolic blood pressure. This number refers to the pressure in your artery walls when your heart rests between beats.

In general, the first number, your systolic blood pressure, gives your doctor the most information about your risks for heart disease. Over time, systolic blood pressure can go up as people get more plaque buildup and their arteries stiffen. So higher systolic blood pressure can indicate increased damage and increased heart disease risk.

But your diastolic blood pressure is also important. If you are between ages 40 to 89, both your stroke and heart disease risk double with every 10 mm Hg increase in diastolic blood pressure.

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What Can I Expect If I Have This Condition

What do the numbers of my blood pressure reading mean, and how can I control heart disease?

Since high blood pressure doesnt cause many symptoms at first, you probably wont feel any different with a high blood pressure diagnosis. But its important to follow your providers instructions to bring your blood pressure down so it doesnt cause serious illnesses later in life.

How long does high blood pressure last?

If you have primary high blood pressure, youll need to control it for the rest of your life.

If you have secondary high blood pressure, your blood pressure will most likely come down after you receive treatment for the medical problem that caused it. If a medication caused your high blood pressure, switching to a different medicine may lower your blood pressure.

What is the outlook for high blood pressure?

You can get seriously ill if you dont treat your high blood pressure. However, if you take the medicines your provider ordered, you can control your blood pressure. Exercising and eating healthy foods also helps lower your blood pressure.

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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.

Why Should I Monitor My Blood Pressure At Home

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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Preventing High Blood Pressure

To keep your blood pressure in the normal range, your daily habits are key. These things help:

Donât smoke. Among the many health problems that smoking causes, it raises your blood pressure.

Make physical activity a habit. Most experts recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity five or more times a week. Or you could do a harder activity for a shorter period of time per session.

Eat right. Read food labels to see how much sodium is in a serving. Check with your doctor to find out what your daily limit should be. Include a lot of vegetables and fruits, along with whatever else you choose to put on your plate.

Stick to a healthy weight. Extra pounds raise your blood pressure. If youâre not sure what a healthy weight would be for you, ask your doctor.

Get enough sleep. For most adults, thatâs 7-8 hours of sleep per night, on a regular basis.

If you drink alcohol, limit it to no more than one drink a day if youâre a woman and up to two drinks a day if youâre a man.

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