What Do The Numbers Mean
When a healthcare professional takes your blood pressure, its expressed as a measurement with two numbers, one number on top and one on the bottom , like a fraction. For example, 120/80 mm Hg.
Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury. Thats what the mm/Hg stands for. Heres what the numbers mean:
- Your systolic pressure is the pressure of the blood in your arteries when your heart contracts or beats.
- Your diastolic pressure is the pressure of the blood in your arteries between beats, when your heart relaxes.
Both numbers are important in determining the state of your heart health.
Numbers greater than the ideal range may be a sign that your heart is working too hard to pump blood to the rest of your body.
For a normal reading, your blood pressure needs to show:
- a systolic pressure thats above 90 mm Hg and less than 120 mm Hg, and
- a diastolic pressure thats between 60 mm Hg and less than 80 mm Hg
The American Heart Association considers blood pressure to be within the normal range when both your systolic and diastolic numbers are in these ranges.
You may need to be even more mindful of your lifestyle if high blood pressure runs in your family.
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 Medicine’s calculator to see if your childs blood pressure reading is in a healthy range.
Low Systolic Blood Pressure
If the systolic blood pressure is lower than normal, it’s called hypotension. If this low blood pressure is serious enough, it can cause lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting. If it lasts long enough and it isn’t treated, it may cause organs like your kidneys to start shutting down.
Systolic hypotension can occur if the amount of blood in your body becomes too low. This can happen if you are severely dehydrated or you have major bleeding there just isn’t enough blood to push through the body.
Sometimes this low blood pressure happens when you change positions suddenly. You may feel dizzy when you stand up because gravity is pulling blood down toward your feet. This is a common condition called orthostatic hypotension.
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What Are The Benefits And Risks Of Blood Pressure Medicines
The benefits of blood pressure medicines are clear: Blood pressure medicines can help you keep your blood pressure at healthy levels and therefore greatly reduce your risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
In general, the risks of taking blood pressure medicines are low. However, all medicines have risks. Talk with your doctor or health care professional about the risks of high blood pressure medicines.
Do not stop taking your current medicine without talking to your doctor or health care professional first.
Achieving Blood Pressure Goals
During the preparation of the Sixth Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure , the investigators focused on the goal of reducing morbidity and mortality caused by hypertension-related events, that is, cardiovascular disease, cerebrovascular disease, and renal failure. We concluded that more stringent blood pressure goals and more aggressive approaches to reducing blood pressure were needed to achieve better control of hypertension worldwide. An SBP < 140 mm Hg and a DBP < 90 mm Hg was proposed as the goal for most patients. For patients with diabetes, even lower goals for optimal blood pressure were recommended . The overriding message of the JNC VI report was to establish an appropriate blood pressure goal and work to meet that goal through aggressive treatment with multiple agents, if needed.
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Why Diastolic Blood Pressure Is Important
Typically, for people over 50, more attention is directed to the higher number, systolic blood pressure, as a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease 4. Therefore, why is diastolic pressure important?
Diastolic pressure is important because an elevated diastolic pressure may be used to make a diagnosis of high blood pressure. In addition, elevated diastolic pressure means there is an increased risk of developing elevated systolic blood pressure as a person ages.
Recent studies have researched people ranging from 40 to 89 years of age. They found for each 10 mmHg diastolic number increase in blood pressure, the risk of death from ischemic heart disease and stroke doubles.
Ischemic heart disease is a term given to heart problems that are caused by narrowed heart arteries.
On the other hand, if diastolic blood pressure is too low, meaning coronary arteries arent getting enough blood pressure, the heart is going to lack oxygen and blood. This is called ischemia and may weaken the heart over time which can lead to heart failure.
The coronary arteries which surround the aortic valve in the heart only get blood when the aortic valve closes, and this happens in diastole 5.
What is diastole? Diastole is the part of the cardiac cycle when the heart is relaxed between beats and refills with blood.
Diastolic blood pressure is measured at the moment diastole is occurring 6.
What Does A Blood Pressure Reading Look Like
When you have your , 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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How Tinnitus Is Diagnosed
Because tinnitus is a symptom and not a disease, it doesnt actually get diagnosed. But as a symptom, it can help your doctor discover that something is wrong with your ear.
If youve just been placed on a medication likely to cause tinnitus, such as the blood pressure medications listed above, your doctor may have you try a different medication and see if the problem resolves itself.
If the tinnitus doesnt go away, your doctor may further investigate the condition. This could include asking you additional questions about your health or checking to see if there is ear wax or other blockage in the ear.
If the doctor doesnt find anything, they may send you to an ear, nose, and throat specialist for further examination or testing. The specialist will examine your head, neck, and ears for signs that might indicate the cause of the tinnitus.
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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.
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Blood Pressure Reading Chart
Below is a blood pressure reading chart for you.
*Remember that the larger figure in your reading represents the systolic value the smaller figure represents your diastolic value. Systolic is the measurement of pressure when the heart is beating. Diastolic is the measurement of pressure when the heart is resting.
How Blood Pressure Is Measured
Blood pressure testing stations can be found in pharmacies, workplaces, and medical clinics. You can also buy a blood pressure monitor online or at your local pharmacy.
To measure blood pressure, a cuff attached to a monitor is placed on your arm. The cuff is then inflated with an air pump until its pressure stops blood flow from your brachial arterythe major artery found in your upper arm.
As the cuff deflates, the device measures the pressure when blood starts flowing again . Once the cuff is completely deflated, the device gauges the lowest pressure between beats .
Typically, more attention is given to the systolic pressure reading, as systolic blood pressure is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease in people over the age of 50. Still, both readings are used to make a diagnosis.
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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.
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.
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.
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Medications That Can Cause And Worsen Tinnitus
More than 600 prescription drugs have been reported to cause or worsen tinnitus.
Below you will find a list of the most common ones that could be triggering the ringing in your ears.
For more than 50 million Americans, tinnitus is a frustrating problem with few treatments available.
Youve probably heard that tinnitus starts because of being exposed to loud noises.
Or a serious injury like a concussion or whiplash.
But did you know that tinnitus could also be caused by a doctor-prescribed medication?
Any medication that could cause tinnitus is called ototoxic which literally means toxic to the ear .
These drugs are all over the map.
From helping your heart disease, to relieving anxiety or depression, or even as a pain reliever, you could be starting or worsening tinnitus when you take these prescriptions that are meant to help a different health issue you are trying to solve.
Knowing which prescription drugs are common tinnitus triggers will help you when you meet with your tinnitus specialist.
The truth is, not everyone will have a tinnitus side effect from these medications.
But if you are aware of at least the most common culprits, it could help you get your tinnitus under control.
And hopefully relieve the stress of the ringing in your ears.
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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.
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Heart Rate Vs Blood Pressure
Blood pressure measures the force that moves blood through your blood vessels while your heart rate is the number of times your heart beats per minute. They are both important health indicators, but they are measured independently and dont necessarily increase or decrease synchronously.
A temporary increase in heart rate, such as during exercise, is not considered problematic. In fact, your heart is expected to rise during a bout of activity and return to its resting rate afterward. And the more intense you work, the more you should expect your heart rate to rise during exercise. Your heart rate can safely double during activity so long as it returns to its resting rate relatively soon after you finish your workout.
Significant increases in blood pressure, on the other hand, are not normal and should be monitored and shared with your health care provider.
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How Is High Blood Pressure Treated
Treatment for hypertension depends on how high your blood pressure is, as well as your lifestyle and risk factors.
For elevated blood pressure, the goal is to keep your blood pressure from developing into clinical hypertension. No medications are necessary at this stage. Your doctor may recommend:
- losing weight if you have overweight or obesity
For stage 1 hypertension, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes as mentioned above, as well as:
- reducing your sodium intake
- finding healthy ways to manage your stress
- medication, if your blood pressure doesnt improve after 1 month of lifestyle changes
For stage 2 hypertension, the typical treatment, in addition to a healthier lifestyle, is medication. Your doctor may prescribe one or more of the following medications to help lower your blood pressure:
- ACE inhibitors to block substances that tighten blood vessels
- alpha blockers to help relax the arteries
- beta-blockers to decrease your heart rate and block substances that tighten blood vessels
- calcium channel blockers to relax blood vessels and decrease the work of your heart
- diuretics to decrease the amount of fluid in your body, including your blood vessels
A hypertensive crisis requires immediate treatment. Medications may be given orally or intravenously .
The most for a hypertensive crisis include:
- vasodilators, such as hydralazine, nitroglycerin, and nitroprusside
- beta-blockers, such as labetalol and esmolol
Determinants Of Arterial Pressure
The main determinant of arterial pressure is the stretch of the walls of the arteries by the volume they contain. This volume increases in systole because inflow exceeds outflow and falls after the peak of ejection because outflow exceeds inflow. The outflow is dependent upon the resistance emptying the arterial tree and the elastance of the vessel walls. The product of the inverse of elastance and the downstream resistance gives the time constant of emptying of the arterial vessels. The time constant is the time it takes to get to 63% of a new steady state after a step change in flow or pressure. Time constants are important in pulsatile systems because they set the amount of filling and emptying of aortic volume that can occur based on the cardiac frequency, the proportions of contraction and relaxation times during systole, and the diastole time.
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
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.