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What Should Your Normal Blood Pressure Be

What The Studies Found And What They Mean

What is a Normal Blood Pressure Reading?

In one of the observational studies, published Oct. 16, 2016, in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, researchers analyzed the medical records of more than 11,000 adults collected over a period of three decades as part of the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study. They found that people who had low diastolic blood pressure were twice as likely to have subtle evidence of heart damage compared with people whose diastolic blood pressure was 80 to 89 mm Hg. Low diastolic values were also linked with a higher risk of heart disease and death from any cause over 21 years.

For the second, published Oct. 29, 2016, in The Lancet, researchers analyzed data from CLARIFY, a registry of more than 22,600 people with heart disease from 45 countries. They determined that, compared with people who had systolic blood pressure of 120 to 139 mm Hg and diastolic pressure of 70 to 79, people with a systolic blood pressure of 140 mm Hg or higher were more likely to experience heart attacks or strokes, to be hospitalized with heart failure, or to die within a five-year period. But the same was true for heart attacks, heart failure, and death in people with low blood pressure .

High Blood Pressure Complications

High blood pressure can cause several complications. For starters, it can damage your blood vessels and can also put a lot of stress on vital organs like your heart and brain. It is also known to increase your risk for stroke, heart disease, and kidney disease.

Mayo Clinic explains, The higher your blood pressure and the longer it goes uncontrolled, the greater the damage. This is why prevention and early detection are so important.

Medications For High Blood Pressure

There are a variety of medications that can help manage high blood pressure. Again, medication is typically recommended when lifestyle changes dont produce results, and in more serious blood pressure cases like stage 1 or stage 2 hypertension. Medications for high blood pressure include:

  • Alpha, beta and alpha-beta blockersStop epinephrine and similar hormones from affecting the cardiovascular system, allowing the muscles of the heart and arteries to stay relaxed.
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitorsStop the body from producing angiotensin, a hormone that narrows blood vessels.
  • Angiotensin receptor blockers Stop angiotensin from affecting blood vessels.
  • Calcium channel blockersHelp keep arteries relaxed by preventing calcium from entering heart and artery cells.
  • Central agonistsHelp control heart rate and blood flow by blocking signals between the brain and the nervous system.
  • DiureticsReduce excess sodium and water in the body.
  • Renin inhibitorsSlow the bodys production of the enzyme renin, which can play a role in high blood pressure.
  • VasodilatorsPrevent artery and vein muscles from narrowing.

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What Your Blood Pressure Numbers Mean

Blood pressure chart for women

Blood pressure is the force that blood applies to the walls of arteries as it’s pumped throughout the body.

“Your arteries are built to withstand some pressure, but there’s a limit to what they can handle,” says Dr. Nasir.

This is why blood pressure is measured and segmented based on how it affects our health. The four blood pressure categories are:

  • Normal blood pressure: Lower than 120/80 mmHg
  • Elevated blood pressure: Between 120-129/80 mmHg
  • High blood pressure, stage 1: Between 130-139/80-90 mmHg
  • High blood pressure, stage 2: 140/90 mmHg or higher

Only normal blood pressure is considered healthy. Having elevated or high blood pressure damages your heart and arteries by:

  • Forcing your heart to pump harder. Over time, this causes heart muscle to thicken, making it harder for the heart to fill with and pump blood.
  • Narrowing and hardening your arteries. This can limit the normal flow of blood.

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How Is High Blood Pressure Diagnosed

High blood pressure is usually diagnosed by a health care professional after a blood pressure screening during an annual checkup. If your blood pressure is usually normal, one high reading is likely nothing to worry about.

Blood pressure can be temporarily raised by lots of different things such as physical activity, dehydration, what you eat or drink, and even the temperature outside. Just being in the doctors office can raise blood pressure.

So before diagnosing high blood pressure, your doctor will likely look at past readings and possibly take another reading. If theyre still not sure, they may recommend additional testing with a home blood pressure monitoring system. And depending on your risk factors or other health conditions, you may be referred to a cardiologist who specializes in cardiovascular diseases .

Exercise For People At Risk For Or With High Blood Pressure

Its safe to exercise if youre at risk for high blood pressure or with high blood pressure . In fact, regular exercise can help you keep your blood pressure in check.

If youre at risk for or have hypertension, speak to your doctor about the safest way to exercise. This may involve:

  • choosing moderate activities
  • working up to daily exercise

If youre concerned about your blood pressure, you can monitor it before, during, and after your workout.

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Whats 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 Common Is High Blood Pressure

What is a normal blood pressure reading?

High blood pressure is a common condition, it is estimated that 18% of adult men and 13% of adult women have high blood pressure but are not getting treatment for it.

In 90-95% of cases, there is no single identifiable reason for a rise in blood pressure. But all available evidence shows that lifestyle plays a significant role in regulating your blood pressure.

Risk factors for high blood pressure include:

  • being overweight
  • excessive alcohol consumption.

Also, for reasons not fully understood, people of Afro-Caribbean and South Asian origin are more likely to develop high blood pressure than other ethnic groups.

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What Does The Systolic Blood Pressure Number Mean

When your heart beats, it squeezes and pushes blood through your arteries to the rest of your body. This force creates pressure on those blood vessels, and that’s your systolic blood pressure.

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.

Heart Rate And Exercise

In discussions about high blood pressure, you will often see heart rate mentioned in relation to exercise. Your target heart rate is based on age and can help you monitor the intensity of your exercise.

  • If you measure your heart rate before, during and after physical activity, youll notice it will increase over the course of the exercise.
  • The greater the intensity of the exercise, the more your heart rate will increase.
  • When you stop exercising, your heart rate does not immediately return to your normal heart rate.
  • The more fit you are, the sooner your heart rate will return to normal.

Learn more:

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What Can I Expect If I Have This Condition

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.

High Blood Pressure Guidelines And Treatments For Seniors

How to accurately measure blood pressure at home

According to the American Heart Association, a reading of 130/80 mmHg or higher constitutes high blood pressure , also known as hypertension. Nearly half of American adults have high blood pressure, and once it develops, it usually lasts a lifetime.

High blood pressure is called the silent killer because it typically presents with no noticeable symptoms. Some people may not find out they have it until they begin experiencing serious problems with their heart, brain or kidneys. The good news is that medication and lifestyle changes can help lower blood pressure and keep it under control.

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What Should I Do If I Have High Blood Pressure

If your healthcare provider has diagnosed you with high blood pressure, they will talk with you about your recommended blood pressure target or goal. They may suggest that you:

  • Check your blood pressure regularly with a home blood pressure monitor. These are automated electronic monitors and are available at most pharmacies or online.
  • Quit smoking and/or using tobacco products.
  • Work on controlling anger and managing stress.

Lifestyle Changes With Blood Pressure Of 170/70

Medications can do a lot to reduce high blood pressure but lifestyle changes remain a frontline of defense.

The first step is to monitor your blood pressure on a consistent basis. Purchase a home blood pressure monitor that uses an arm cuff and check your blood pressure every few days. Keep a record of your blood pressure readings and share it with your doctor at your next visit.

Whether youre checking your blood pressure regularly or not, lifestyle modifications are usually recommended. Lifestyle modifications for those with a blood pressure of 170/70 include the following:

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What Do Blood Pressure Numbers Mean

Blood pressure is measured using two numbers:

The first number, called systolic blood pressure, measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats.

The second number, called diastolic blood pressure, measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart rests between beats.

If the measurement reads 120 systolic and 80 diastolic, you would say, 120 over 80, or write, 120/80 mmHg.

What Is A Normal Heart Rate

Blood Pressure Chart for your AGE

A normal resting heart rate is usually between 60 and 100 beats per minute. Your number may vary. Children tend to have higher resting heart rates than adults.

The best time to measure your resting heart rate is just after you wake up in the morning, before you start moving around or have any caffeine.

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When To Contact A Medical Professional

If you have high blood pressure, you will have regular checkups with your provider.

Even if you have not been diagnosed with high blood pressure, it is important to have your blood pressure checked during your regular check-up, especially if someone in your family has or had high blood pressure.

Contact your provider right away if home monitoring shows that your blood pressure is still high.

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.

References

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How Can I Control My Blood Pressure

You can often lower your blood pressure by changing your day-to-day habits and by taking medication if needed. Treatment, especially if you have other medical conditions such as diabetes, requires ongoing evaluation and discussions with your doctor.

Lifestyle changes you can make to help prevent and lower high blood pressure:

In addition to recommending lifestyle changes, your doctor will likely prescribe medication to lower your blood pressure to a safe level. Isolated systolic hypertension, the most common form of high blood pressure in older adults, is treated in the same way as regular high blood pressure but may require more than one type of blood pressure medication. You may try several kinds or combinations of medications before finding a plan that works best for you. Medication can control your blood pressure, but it can’t cure it. If your doctor starts you on medication for high blood pressure, you may need to take it long-term.

What Should Your Blood Pressure Be At Every Age

How Healthy Are You? Take These Simple DIY Tests to Find Out

High blood pressure also referred to as hypertension, is blood pressure that is higher than normal. It is normal for your blood pressure to change throughout the day based on your activities. But, if your blood pressure is above normal consistently you may have high blood pressure. Unfortunately, there arent many symptoms of high blood pressure, until there is serious damage. This is why the condition can easily go undetected.

Having your blood pressure checked regularly can help detect high blood pressure early. However, blood pressure readings can be confusing, especially if you dont know what the numbers mean. In this article, well break down how you can check your blood pressure at home and how to understand the blood pressure numbers. Well also go over what is considered acceptable blood pressure and well break it down by age. Lets explore these next!

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Stress And Anxiety: It Can Make Your Blood Pressure Higher Than Normal

The fight or flight response is a valuable response when we are faced with an immediate, short-term threat that we can handle by fighting or fleeing. However, the shot of adrenaline and cortisol were designed to help our ancestors fight off situations like encountering a wild animal in the woods.

Unfortunately, our modern world contains many stressful events that we cant handle with those short-term options. Chronic stress causes our bodies to go into high gear on and off for days, weeks or months at a time.

This constant stress can result in the following mental and emotional symptoms:

  • Irrational Anger
  • Skipping exercise

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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