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What Is High Blood Pressure Numbers

Normal Systolic Blood Pressure

High Blood Pressure: How to Understand the Numbers

A normal systolic blood pressure reading is less than 120 mmHg and a diastolic number less than 80 mmHg indicates normal blood pressure 2.

For consistent blood pressure readings in this range, a doctor will typically suggest the following:

  • Follow a heart healthy diet.
  • Engage in regular physical activity.
  • Continue to avoid unhealthy habits like excess alcohol or smoking.
  • Monitor blood pressure readings.
  • Attend regular physicals.

I explain how and why normal blood pressure is no longer 120/80 in my article, Normal Blood Pressure Surprisingly Its Not 120 Over 80.

What Is Normal Blood Pressure

For years we have been told that a normal blood pressure reading is 120/80 however, more and more doctors have now lowered these numbers to 115/75. Blood pressure is different for everyone as many factors can have an effect on the numbers.

Our blood pressure refers to the amount of force behind the blood as it hits the arterial walls. As the heart pumps the blood, an ideal pressure sees the blood push against the walls that are flexible enough to expand and retract easily. Over time, our age, diet, and physical activity play a role on the elasticity of our blood vessels. With a loss of flexibility due to hardening of the walls, the heart needs to work harder to push the blood.

These factors determine the blood pressure numbers. The systolic number is the top number, and it indicates the pressure as the heart beats or pushes the blood throughout the body. The diastolic number is the bottom number, and refers to the pressure in the arteries when the heart rests between beats. During this time, the heart receives oxygen as it fills with blood.

What Is Normal Blood Pressure According To Age

Blood pressure is the pressure of the blood within the arteries. It is produced primarily by the contraction of the heart muscle. Its measurement is recorded by two numbers. The first is measured after the heart contracts and is highest. The second is measured before the heart contracts and the lowest. A blood pressure cuff is used to measure the pressure. Elevation of blood pressure is called “hypertension“.

The chart shows normal blood pressure according to age both male and female. Diastolic blood pressure and Systolic Blood Pressure are included in the chart.

Normal Blood Pressure By Age

Age

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Does Normal Blood Pressure Change With Age

Just as our blood pressure readings change according to our posture, sleep time, and stress levels throughout the day, our blood pressure changes as we age. Despite the fluctuating or changing measurements, we should maintain a normal range. As we age, we can expect changes in our cardiovascular health, including our blood pressure and cholesterol levels. There are several factors that reflect our blood pressure levels over the years, including normal blood pressure for seniors.

Dangers Of High Blood Pressure

Blood Pressure

Dangers of untreated high blood pressure include stroke, heart attack, heart failure, vision loss, kidney failure, vascular dementia and sexual dysfunction, says Dr. Desai. Its one of the top risk factors for developing atrial fibrillation, which is the most common heart rhythm disorder worldwide and can lead to stroke, heart failure and reduced quality of life.

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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.

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.

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What Is High Blood Pressure What Is Normal Blood Pressure

  • High blood pressure is defined as high pressure in the arteries, which are the vessels that carry blood from the heart to the rest of the body.
  • Blood pressure readings are given as two numbers:
  • The systolic blood pressure equals the pressure in the arteries as the heart contracts.
  • The diastolic pressure is the pressure in the arteries as the heart relaxes.
  • Normal blood pressure is below 120/80.
  • In 2017, the American College of Cardiology released new guidelines for high blood pressure.
  • Blood pressure between 120/80 and 129/80 is elevated blood pressure, and a blood pressure of 130/80 or above is considered high.
  • The American Academy of Cardiology defines blood pressure ranges as:
  • Hypertension stage 1 is 130-139 or 80-89 mm Hg, and hypertension stage 2 is 140 or higher, or 90 mm Hg or higher.
  • Blood Pressure: How High Is Too High And What Can You Do

    High Blood Pressure Readings & Numbers

    Alan Segal, MD, is a nephrologist at The University of Vermont Medical Center where he is also Director of the Nephrology Fellowship Program. He is also an associate professor at the Larner College of Medicine at UVM.

    High blood pressure, clinically known as hypertension, affects nearly 75 million adults in the United States and 1 billion people globally. Although one-third of adults in the United States are affected, only half of them have their blood pressure controlled.

    That has significant costs, both in terms of health and economics. The estimated economic burden for hypertension in 2014 was nearly $75 billion worldwide. It is the single largest contributor to death and disability worldwide, in large part because it dramatically increases the risk of stroke, heart attack, heart failure, and chronic kidney disease. For example, starting at a blood pressure of 115/75, the risk of death doubles for every 20 mmHg increase in systolic pressure , and for every 10 mmHg increase in diastolic pressure .

    Hypertension is the most common reason for office visits in adults and more prescriptions are written for blood pressure lowering drugs than for any other drug class.

    Lets review the most frequently asked questions about hypertension and how to treat it.

    What is blood pressure and what is hypertension?

    According to the Joint National Committee :

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    Which Number Is More Important

    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 buildup of plaque and an increased incidence of cardiac and vascular disease.

    However, either an elevated systolic or an elevated diastolic blood pressure reading may be used to make a diagnosis of high blood pressure. According to recent studies, the risk of death from ischemic heart disease and stroke doubles with every 20 mm Hg systolic or 10 mm Hg diastolic increase among people from age 40 to 89.

    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.

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    Living With High Blood Pressure

    Controlling your high blood pressure is a lifelong commitment. You will always need to monitor your weight, make healthy food choices, exercise, learn to cope with stress, avoid smoking, and limit your alcohol intake. If you need medicine to control your high blood pressure, you will likely need it all your life.

    Additionally, you will need to get used to regular blood pressure checks. Your doctor may want you to come to the office regularly. Or you may be asked to check your blood pressure at home and keep track of your numbers for your doctor. Some pharmacies and retail clinics have blood pressure machines on site. You can buy your own, automated arm blood pressure cuff for use at home. Your doctor may want you to check your blood pressure several times a day. Another option is to use an ambulatory blood pressure monitor.

    How To Measure Blood Pressure

    3 Reasons You Really Need to Know Your Blood Pressure ...

    Usually a nurse checks your blood pressure to make sure its not too low or too high before your doctors appointment. But you can also check your readings manually at home. You can use an inflatable cuff similar to those used at your doctors office. Or you can use a digital blood pressure monitor with automatic cuff inflation.

    Read the directions carefully when measuring your blood pressure. Certain factors can cause a temporary rise in blood pressure. These factors include:

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    When Should You Get Help For An Abnormal Blood Pressure Reading

    One high or low blood pressure reading by itself may not mean you need to call for help. If you take your blood pressure and it is out of the normal range, wait a few minutes and take it again. If it’s still high or low, use the following guidance.

    911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

    • You passed out .

    or seek immediate medical care if:

    • Your blood pressure is much higher than normal .
    • You think high blood pressure is causing symptoms such as:
    • Severe headache.
    • Your blood pressure is 140/90 or higher on two or more occasions.
    • Your blood pressure is usually normal and well controlled, but it goes above the normal range on more than one occasion.
    • Your blood pressure is lower than usual and you are dizzy or light-headed.
    • You think you may be having side effects from your blood pressure medicine.

    The Basics Of Blood Pressure

    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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    Fighting Back Against The Silent Killer

    High blood pressure is a symptomless silent killer that quietly damages blood vessels and leads to serious health problems.

    While there is no cure, using medications as prescribed and making lifestyle changes can enhance your quality of life and reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and more.

    What Should I Do If I Have High Blood Pressure

    High Blood Pressure Numbers: Normal vs. Dangerous

    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.

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    What Do Blood Pressure Readings Mean

    Blood pressure readings can vary in a single person throughout the day depending on the situation. Factors such as stress, anxiety, foods are eaten , smoking or exercise can cause pressure to rise.

    The American Heart Association defines normal blood pressure as less than 120/80. Elevated blood pressure ranges between 120/80 and 129/80, and high blood pressure is 130/80 and higher. In pregnancy, normal blood pressure should be below 120/80.

    If your blood pressure reaches the high range, you should see your doctor about lifestyle changes, and possibly medication especially if you have other risk factors, such as diabetes or heart disease.

    High blood pressure may indicate an emergency situation. If this high blood pressure is associated with chest pain, shortness of breath, headache, dizziness, or back or abdominal pain, seek medical care immediately. If you are experiencing no associated symptoms with a high blood pressure reading such as this, re-check it again within a few minutes and contact your doctor or go to an emergency room if it is still high.

    If your blood pressure is lower than about 100/60 you may have low blood pressure, depending on the associated symptoms. If you are unsure, check with your doctor.

    Risk Factors For High Blood Pressure

    There are many different risk factors for hypertension. While some are unavoidable, others are within your control.

    The two major ones that you can’t change are genetics and age. People of certain races, such as African-Americans, are also at higher risk for developing hypertension.

    Modifiable risk factors including the following, according to the Mayo Clinic:

  • Not exercising enough
  • Consuming too much salt and alcohol
  • High levels of stress
  • Alternatively, sometimes underlying health conditions like diabetes are the culprit, according to the American College of Cardiology.

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    You Can Fight High Blood Pressure

    While heart disease is still the No. 1 killer in the United States and around the world, death rates have decreased significantly. Earlier and better treatment of high blood pressure has played a key role in that decrease.

    Written by American Heart Association editorial staff and reviewed by science and medicine advisers. See our editorial policies and staff.

    What Are The Symptoms Of High Blood Pressure

    Blood Pressure Readings Explained

    The only way you can know for sure if you have high blood pressure is by having a nurse or doctor measure it. Monitoring your blood pressure at home also helps keep your blood pressure in check. Most often, high blood pressure is “silent,” meaning it has no other signs to warn you, according to the CDC.

    Read Also: What Are The Symptoms For High Blood Pressure

    Will High Blood Pressure Effect My Chances Of Getting Pregnant

    Women who improve their heart health before pregnancy can reduce their medical risks later. This proactive approach can lower the likelihood of pregnancy complications. If youre considering becoming pregnant, talk to your health care team about healthy changes you can make to help both you and your baby be healthier.

    Doctors and researchers have found a link between birth control pills and an increase in blood pressure among some women. They say that it is more likely to occur in women who are overweight, have kidney disease or have a family history of high blood pressure.

    Learn more about pregnancy and maternal health, including information on being healthy before, during and after a pregnancy.

    Written by American Heart Association editorial staff and reviewed by science and medicine advisers. See our editorial policies and staff.

    Understanding Blood Pressure Readings

    The AHA explains that blood pressure is essentially the amount of force exerted by blood as it pushes up against blood vessel walls. Blood pressure is deemed to be “high” when the force of that push is higher than it should safely be.

    The problem is that high blood pressure also known as hypertension is often symptomless. Many people don’t even know they have it until a cardiac emergency, such as a heart attack, strikes. Prevention by means of routine blood pressure screenings is key.

    A blood pressure reading is delivered as a ratio of a top number and a bottom number . Both numbers are expressed as millimeters of mercury. The top number references blood pressure when the heart is beating, and the bottom number refers to the pressure when the heart is at rest between beats.

    Read more:What Causes High Diastolic Blood Pressure?

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    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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