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What Does Blood Pressure Reading Mean

Hypertensive Crisis: When You Should Call 911 For High Blood Pressure

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

A hypertensive crisis is when blood pressure rises quickly and severely with readings of 180/120 or greater.

The consequences of uncontrolled blood pressure in this range can be severe and include:

  • Pulmonary edema
  • Eclampsia

An elevated reading may or may not be accompanied by one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Severe headache
  • Severe anxiety

Interpret Your Blood Pressure Readings

Interpreting the blood pressure readings is simple – just keep them low. However most people ignore or do not understand the pulse pressure. All three numbers, systolic, diastolic and pulse pressure are important as hypertension is dangerous.

Your blood pressure monitor normally returns two numbers – a high value and a low value. The high value is the systolic blood pressure and is the pressure exerted against the arterial walls by blood as it is being pumped from the heart. The low value is the diastolic blood pressure and is the pressure exerted by the elastic recoil of the arteries during the heart relaxes.

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 To Do If Your Blood Pressure Reading Is 150/80

A blood pressure reading of 150/80 can be cause for concern. The first step is to take another reading to confirm your blood pressure.

As an aside, home blood pressure monitors are amazingly affordable and great way to stay on top of your blood pressure. So invest in your health and check out .

Elevated blood pressure should be confirmed on at least 3 separate days before diagnosing hypertension.

Already diagnosed with hypertension? If so a blood pressure in this range may indicate the need to adjust your blood pressure medications.

Once you have been assessed by a medical professional there are a number of ways you can address a blood pressure reading of 150/80.

What Do The Numbers On Your Blood Pressure Reading Mean

What Do the Numbers on a 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.

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What’s The Difference Between Blood Pressure And Pulse

While your blood pressure is the force of your blood moving through your blood vessels, your heart rate is the number of times your heart beats per minute.

  • They are two separate measurements and indicators of health.
  • For people with high blood pressure , theres no substitute for measuring blood pressure.

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:

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How Often You Should Check Your Blood Pressure

The American Heart Association recommends checking your blood pressure beginning at age 20 and measuring it every two years if its normal. If its high, your doctor will want to see you more often, especially if you are controlling it with medication. A primary care doctor can check your blood pressure and take steps to help you keep it well controlled. Talk to your doctor if you have concerns about your blood pressure.

Remember: Even extremely high blood pressure levels may not cause noticeable symptoms. Get to the emergency department or call 911 if you have weakness on one side, slurred speech, severe headaches, or vision changes such as blind spots or blurred vision.

Have more questions about your blood pressure?

Talk to a doctor near you.

What Do Blood Pressure Readings Mean

What do the numbers in the blood pressure reading 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

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Healthy And Unhealthy Blood Pressure Ranges

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

Blood Pressure Chart

SYSTOLIC mm Hg and/or DIASTOLIC mm Hg
NORMAL
HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE STAGE 1 130 139
HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE STAGE 2 140 OR HIGHER
HYPERTENSIVE CRISIS HIGHER THAN 180 and/or HIGHER THAN 120

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.

Blood Pressure Daily Cycle

Hypertension increases the risk of having health complications, such as heart attack and kidney failure. The goal is to have normal blood pressure at all time and to decrease the risk of having health issues. The following diagram shows a person’s blood pressure throughout the day. Its varies during the day and is depending on the activities being performed by the individual.

In general, blood pressure rises in the morning and after a meal. At night, while sleeping, it should drop by 10-20%. The lack of nighttime blood pressure drop is associated with a significant increase with the risk of having heart and kidney problems.

Blood pressure measured at doctor’s office is often misleading due to white coat sydrome. The anxiety being in a doctor’s office is sufficient to increase the blood pressure for many people. Blood pressure should be measured through out the day and night to get an accurate assessment of the situation. The goal is to minimize excessive blood pressure 24-hours a day.

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What Do The Results Mean

Your results, also known as a blood pressure reading, will contain two numbers. The top or first number is the systolic pressure. The bottom or second number is the diastolic pressure. High blood pressure readings are also labeled by categories, ranging from normal to crisis. Your reading may show your blood pressure is:

Blood Pressure Category
and 120 or higher

If you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure, your provider may recommend lifestyle changes and/or medicines to control your blood pressure. Your provider may also recommend that you regularly check your blood pressure at home with an automated blood pressure monitor. An at-home blood pressure monitor usually includes a blood pressure cuff and a digital device to record and display blood pressure readings.

Home monitoring is not a replacement for regular visits to your provider. But it can provide important information, such as whether treatment is working or your condition may have worsened. Also, home monitoring may make the test less stressful. Many people get nervous about getting their blood pressure taken at a provider’s office. This is called “white coat syndrome.” It can cause a temporary rise in blood pressure, making the results less accurate. For more information about home monitoring of blood pressure, talk to your provider.

High Blood Pressure Facts

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

High blood pressure is serious because it can lead to major health problems. Make a point of learning what blood pressure should be. And, remember:

If your doctor asks you to take your blood pressure at home, keep in mind:

  • There are many home blood pressure monitors for sale. Ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist which monitor you need and how to use it. Have your monitor checked at the doctor’s office to make sure it works correctly.
  • Avoid smoking, exercise, and caffeine 30 minutes before checking your blood pressure.
  • Make sure you are sitting with your feet uncrossed and on the floor, and that your back is resting against something.
  • Relax quietly for five minutes before checking your blood pressure.
  • Keep a list of your blood pressure numbers, what time you measured your blood pressure, and when you took your blood pressure medication . Share this information with your doctor, physician’s assistant, or nurse.

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Which Blood Pressure Number Is Important

Q.When I am monitoring my blood pressure, which number is most important top, bottom, or both?

A. While both numbers in a blood pressure reading are essential for diagnosing and treating high blood pressure, doctors primarily focus on the top number, also known as systolic pressure.

Systolic pressure reflects the force produced by the heart when it pumps blood out to the body, while diastolic blood pressure is the pressure in your blood vessels when the heart is at rest.

Over the years, research has found that both numbers are equally important in monitoring heart health. However, most studies show a greater risk of stroke and heart disease related to higher systolic pressures compared with elevated diastolic pressures. That’s especially true in people ages 50 and older, which is why doctors tend to monitor the top number more closely. The reason for the difference in risk may be related to the force put on the arteries when blood rushes out of the heart.

The American Heart Association now defines high blood pressure as 130/80 mm Hg or higher. The new guidelines recommend you check your blood pressure often, ideally with a home monitor, to help your doctor determine if you need to make lifestyle changes, begin medication, or alter your current therapy.

by Howard LeWine, M.D.

Who Is At Greater Risk For Developing High Blood Pressure

  • Those with a relative who has high blood pressure.
  • Those over 65.
  • Women are at greater risk than men.
  • African Americans, particularly if the disease runs in the family.
  • Those leading a sedentary lifestyle.
  • Those who eat too much salt.

A blood pressure evaluation should be a part of everyones yearly physical.

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What Do The Readings Mean

As a general guide:

140/90mmHg or over you may have high blood pressureMost doctors use 140/90mmHg as the cut off for point for diagnosing high blood pressure . This is the point where your risk of serious health problems goes up. They might prescribe medications and advise you to make changes to your lifestyle to bring your blood pressure down. 120/80mmHg up to 140/90mmHg pre-high blood pressureAlso called high-normal blood pressure. This is not high blood pressure, but it is a little higher than it should be and means you could go on to develop high blood pressure. See how you can make healthy changes to your lifestyle to lower it. 90/60mmHg up to 120/80mmHg ideal blood pressureAlso called normal blood pressure. Your blood pressure reading is healthy. At this level you have a much lower risk of heart disease and stroke. Following a healthy lifestyle will help you to keep it in the healthy range. 90/60mmHg or lower you may have low blood pressureLow blood pressure usually isnt a problem, but it can sometimes make you feel faint or dizzy or could be a sign of another health problem.

The video below explains how your blood pressure numbers are linked to the risk of stroke and other disease.

Blood Pressure Thats Too Low

The Truth About Your BLOOD PRESSURE READING

Low blood pressure is known as hypotension. In adults, a blood pressure reading of 90/60 mm Hg or below is often considered hypotension. This can be dangerous because blood pressure that is too low doesnt supply your body and heart with enough oxygenated blood.

Some potential causes of hypotension can include:

  • heart problems

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Why Is It Important To Know If You Have High Blood Pressure

Early detection of high blood pressure is very important. Often referred to as the silent killer because it may show no symptoms, high blood pressure puts you at an increased risk for heart disease, heart failure, and stroke, among other things. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2013, more than 360,000 deaths in the United States included high blood pressure as a primary or contributing cause.

What Does High Blood Pressure Feel Like

High blood pressure often doesn’t have any symptoms, so you usually don’t feel it.

Hypertension is usually diagnosed by a health care professional during a routine checkup. The average person should get a blood pressure reading at least once a year. As a cardiologist, I think its important for everyone to know their numbers. That means knowing what your blood pressure is. And it also means knowing your blood sugar level, cholesterol and body mass index. When you know your numbers, you can work with your doctor to make a plan to reduce any risks.

Blood pressure is even more important to pay attention to, though, if you have a close relative with hypertension or other risk factors. And know that if your blood pressure is extremely high, you may have unusually severe headaches, chest pain, difficulty breathing or get easily worn out by workouts. If you have any of these symptoms, see your doctor right away.

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Dangers Of Low Blood Pressure

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.

High Diastolic Blood Pressure Symptoms

What Does my Blood Pressure Reading Mean?

High blood pressure does not typically cause notable symptoms. The AHA note that the common belief that high blood pressure will cause sweating, facial flushing, or a feeling of nervousness is a myth.

However, a person may experience nosebleeds or headaches if they are in a state of hypertensive crisis. If a person gets two blood pressure readings of 180/120 mm Hg or higher, with 5 minutes between the readings, they should contact 911 or seek emergency medical attention.

A person may have high blood pressure for years before they experience any complications. Some possible indirectly related symptoms include:

  • dizziness

2016 study state that more research is necessary to understand exactly how anxiety raises blood pressure and why it only happens in some people, especially in young adults.

One suggestion is that mental stress may activate a particular part of the nervous system that triggers a cascade of hormones, which interfere with how the body regulates blood pressure.

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