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 . This is the point where your risk of serious health problems goes up. They might prescribe and advise you to make changes to your 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 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 will help you to keep it in the healthy range. 90/60mmHg or lower you may have low 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.
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.
What Is Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring
If a doctor recommends ambulatory blood pressure monitoring, you will need to wear a blood pressure cuff for 24 hours. It’s connected to a small, portable measuring device that automatically measures your blood pressure at set times and records the readings.
Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring is used, for example, to see whether blood pressure levels vary greatly over the course of the day and night or whether they are constantly elevated. During those 24 hours, you can do all of the usual things you would otherwise do over the course of the day. If you are especially active at certain times, you can make a note in a diary. Then the doctor has a better idea of how to interpret the recorded values when evaluating them.
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Digital Blood Pressure Monitors
Digital blood pressure monitors are often used on the wrist, but they can also be placed on the finger or upper arm and are activated simply by pressing a button. They read the blood pressure automatically based on variations in the volume of blood in the arteries. When taking blood pressure measurements on the wrist, it’s important to keep the hand level with the heart. Otherwise it can affect the readings.
Digital meters can sometimes be inaccurate and produce unreliable readings anyway especially in people with certain heart rhythm problems or arteries that have hardened due to arteriosclerosis.
What Is Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of arteries.
Blood pressure is measured with two numbers.
- The systolic blood pressure is the pressure caused when the heart contracts and pushes out the blood
- The diastolic blood pressure is the pressure when the heart relaxes and fills with blood between heartbeats
Blood pressure readings are reported as the systolic blood pressure number over the diastolic blood pressure number, such as 120/80 mmHg .
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What You Should Know About High Blood Pressure
- Posted On: Jul 1, 2018
Every time your heart beats, it creates pressure on the walls of your blood vessels. If the force of this pumping is too high, over time it wears out the arteries. Persistent high blood pressure is a risk factor for heart disease.
Blood pressure measures the results of two forces:
Your blood pressure measurement is the systolic rate over the diastolic rate. Normal blood pressure is 120/80 mmHG or lower.
If your blood pressure reading is higher than 180 or 100 , take it again. If it’s still this high, seek immediate medical treatment.
Unfortunately, high blood pressure often has few symptoms and you might not feel anything is wrong. Check your blood pressure regularly so you can spotand treathigh blood pressure before it causes long-term damage.
High blood pressure can often lead to heart attack and heart failure, stroke, kidney failure and other health consequences.
GOOD News: Its never too late to make healthy lifestyle changes to lower your blood pressure, such as quitting smoking, eating healthy foods and becoming more active.
What Diet Helps Control High Blood Pressure
- Eat foods that are lower in fat, salt and calories, such as skim or 1% milk, fresh vegetables and fruits, and whole-grain rice and pasta.
- Use flavorings, spices and herbs to make foods tasty without using salt. The optimal recommendation for salt in your diet is to have less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium a day. 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. Dont add salt at the table.
- Avoid or cut down on foods high in fat or salt, such as butter and margarine, regular salad dressings, fatty meats, whole milk dairy products, fried foods, processed foods or fast foods and salted snacks.
- Ask your provider if you should increase potassium in your diet. Discuss the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet with your provider. The DASH diet emphasizes adding fruits, vegetables and whole grains to your diet while reducing the amount of sodium. Since its 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.
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And Whats The Definition Of High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, puts a strain on your heart and blood vessels and makes you more susceptible to heart attacks and strokes.
Normal blood pressure is regarded as being between 120-129 and 80-84 .
The definition of high blood pressure, according to 2018 ESC/ESH Guidelines, is anything above 140/90 mmHg. If you measure it in the comfort of your own home, where youre likely to be more relaxed, the limit is slightly lower at 135/85.
If your blood pressure is between 120/80 and 140/90, you may be at risk of developing hypertension at some stage in the future unless you take action to bring it under control. This is called prehypertension.
A blood pressure reading of over 180/120 is dangerously high. Doctors call this a hypertensive crisis, and it requires immediate treatment.
Systolic blood pressure, the top number, is more important than diastolic blood pressure in people over 40. Thats because its a better predictor of stroke and heart attack. And only one of the two numbers has to be higher than it should be to count as high blood pressure.
All this can be summarised in a blood pressure chart, like this:
To check your blood pressure against the chart, start from your systolic pressure on the left-hand side, and move your finger to the right until you reach your diastolic pressure. The colour will tell you whether you have normal or abnormal blood pressure.
Whats Considered Elevated Blood Pressure
Blood pressure numbers that are higher than 120/80 mm Hg are a warning sign. It means you need to pay attention to your blood pressure and focus on heart-healthy habits.
Although these numbers arent technically considered high blood pressure, youve moved out of the normal range. Elevated blood pressure may turn into high blood pressure, which puts you at an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
Elevated blood pressure
When your systolic pressure is between 120 and 129mm Hgand your diastolic pressure is less than 80mm Hg, it means you have elevated blood pressure.
No medications are necessary for elevated blood pressure. But your doctor may talk with you about the importance of a healthy lifestyle, such as getting regular exercise, eating a balanced diet, and managing your weight.
You may receive a diagnosis of stage 1 hypertension if:
- your systolic blood pressure is between 130 and 139 mm Hg, or
- your diastolic blood pressure is between 80 and 89 mm Hg
However, the AHA notes that if you get only one reading this high, you may not truly have stage 1 hypertension. What determines the diagnosis of hypertension at any stage is the average of your blood pressure numbers over a period of time.
Your doctor can help you measure and track your blood pressure to confirm whether its too high.
Stage 1 hypertension
If your systolic blood pressure is 130 to 139 mm Hgor your diastolic blood pressure is 80 to 89 mm Hg, its considered stage 1 hypertension.
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Side Effects 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.
How Do I Get An Accurate Blood Pressure Reading
Once youve chosen a validated blood pressure monitor that fits your needs, youll still need to take an accurate reading with it. The best way to learn is to bring it with you to your next doctors visit, so your doctor can show you how to use it correctly. In general, these are good things to keep in mind when measuring your blood pressure at home:
Sit in a chair with a firm back, keeping your back straight and your legs flat on the ground and uncrossed.
Rest for 5 minutes or more before measuring your blood pressure.
Keep your arm at heart level and on a flat surface such as a table.
Place the blood pressure cuff around your arm so that its touching your skin. Do not put the cuff over clothing.
Take two measurements at least 1 minute apart in the morning before taking medications, and take two measurements at least 1 minute apart in the evening before supper. Be sure to do this at the same times each day. Your doctor may also ask you to take additional measurements depending on your specific health concerns.
If youve been exercising and need a measurement of your normal blood pressure, rest for at least 30 minutes before taking your reading.
Do not smoke or drink caffeinated beverages like coffee, soda, or tea if youre planning to take a blood pressure reading in the next 30 minutes.
Other helpful resources
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Why Is Mmhg Used To Measure Blood Pressure
To understand that, we have to go all the way back to 1643, when Evangelista Torricelli invented the mercury manometer. It was a vertical tube filled with mercury, and the first hydrostatic gauge. It led to the first accurate barometer in history.
A few years later, in 1661, Christiaan Huygens invented the U-tube manometer, which quickly displayed pressure differences.
As more and more pressure-measuring devices were created, mercury continued to be the fluid of choice.
Mercury has a high density, over 13 times denser than water, which makes it a compact fluid to use in instruments .
Mercury is highly cohesive, so it does not cling to the inside of a glass tube, leading to errors in measurement that may occur when oils are used. Mercury has low vapor pressure, so it does not expand as easily as other fluids.
So mercury was the natural choice of working fluid when Samuel Siegfried Karl Ritter von Basch invented the sphygmomanometer in 1881.
When To Check Blood Pressure
- If your blood pressure is normal , get it checked every year, or more often as your doctor suggests.
- If your blood pressure is elevated — a systolic blood pressure between 120 and 129 or diastolic blood pressure of less than 80 — your doctor will probably want to check it every 3-6 months. They will probably recommend lifestyle changes like more exercise and a better diet.
- If you have stage 1 hypertension — 130-139 over 89-90 — the doctor might suggest lifestyle changes and see you again in 3-6 months. Or they could tell you to make the changes and give you medication, then recheck your condition in a month. It depends on what other health conditions or risk factors you have.
- If you have stage 2 hypertension — 140/90 or higher — youâll likely get medication. You’ll also need to make lifestyle changes and see the doctor again in a month.
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Heart Attack And Heart Disease
High blood pressure can damage your arteries by making them less elastic, which decreases the flow of blood and oxygen to your heart and leads to heart disease. In addition, decreased blood flow to the heart can cause:
- Chest pain, also called angina.
- Heart attack, which happens when the blood supply to your heart is blocked and heart muscle begins to die without enough oxygen. The longer the blood flow is blocked, the greater the damage to the heart.
- Heart failure, a condition that means your heart cant pump enough blood and oxygen to your other organs.
What Questions Should I Ask My Provider
- Are there supplements or non-prescription medicines that I shouldnt take?
- Can I keep taking these medicines if I get pregnant?
- What kinds of exercise should I do?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
If you dont treat high blood pressure, it can put you at risk for developing serious illnesses later in life such as heart attack, kidney failure and stroke. But if you follow your providers instructions, you can control your blood pressure. Be sure to take any medicines your provider ordered as instructed. Keep taking them even if your blood pressure numbers begin to fall into the normal range. Living a healthy lifestyle by eating healthy foods, watching your weight and getting regular exercise is also a great way to help control your blood pressure.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 09/21/2021.
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What Does The Systolic Blood Pressure Number Mean
Hereâs how to understand your systolic blood pressure number:
- Normal: Below 120
- Stage 1 high blood pressure : 130-139
- Stage 2 hypertension: 140 or more
- Hypertensive crisis: 180 or more. Call 911.
Systolic Blood Pressure Facts
- Both blood pressure numbers are important and either number, including systolic, can be used as a diagnosis for high blood pressure.
- For people aged 50 or older, doctors tend to monitor systolic blood pressure more closely.
- High systolic blood pressure is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
- Isolated systolic hypertension is the most common form of high blood pressure 1.
- Its more typical for the elderly to have high systolic blood pressure but younger people can get it too.
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Normal Blood Pressure By Age Race And Gender
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.
The reason for this variance can range from substandard insurance coverage and poor access to healthcare to gaps in the use of medications to treat multiple conditions with reduced compliance in certain groups, he adds.
As for gender, theres increasing evidence for risk of cardiovascular disease in women with blood pressures lower than what is considered normal, says Jennifer Wong, M.D., medical director of non-invasive cardiology at MemorialCare Heart and Vascular Institute at Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California.
What Is Low Blood Pressure
While hypertension can be problematic for your overall health, blood pressure thats too low can also be cause for concern. With that said, the American Heart Association doesnt recognize a specific day-to-day blood pressure reading as too low. Instead, its a matter of what symptoms you may be experiencing due to low blood pressure, how these symptoms affect you and how long they persist.
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Recommended Blood Pressure Monitors
Williams B, Giuseppe M, Spiering W, et al. . 2018 ESC/ESH Guidelines for the management of arterial hypertension. Journal of Hypertension, 36. doi: 10.1097/HJH.0000000000001940
Bupa . High blood pressure. Retrieved from www.bupa.co.uk/health-information/heart-blood-circulation/high-blood-pressure-hypertension
Blood Pressure Association . Blood pressure chart. Retrieved from www.bloodpressureuk.org/BloodPressureandyou/Thebasics/Bloodpressurechart
Blood Pressure Monitor Vs Blood Pressure Cuff
Blood pressure monitor and blood pressure cuff are two phrases often used to describe the same blood pressure measurement tool. The blood pressure cuff is the element that wraps around either the upper arm, wrist or finger to measure blood pressure. The blood pressure monitor is the element in charge of inflating and deflating the cuff, as well as providing your blood pressure reading on an easy-to-read display.
Most experts recommend using a blood pressure monitor with an upper arm blood pressure cuff for at-home readings because they tend to be more accurate than wrist cuffs and finger cuffs.
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