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.
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.
If You Notice A Sudden Decline In Blood Pressure
A single lower-than-normal reading is not cause for alarm, unless you are experiencing any other symptoms or problems. If you experience any dizziness, lightheadedness, nausea or other symptoms, its a good idea to consult with your healthcare provider. To help with your diagnosis, keep a record of your symptoms and activities at the time they occurred.
Is low blood pressure related to low heart rate? Find out.
Written by American Heart Association editorial staff and reviewed by science and medicine advisers. See our editorial policies and staff.
Last Reviewed: Oct 31, 2016
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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.
Understanding Your Blood Pressure Reading
Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury and is given as 2 numbers:
- systolic pressure the pressure when your heart pushes blood out
- diastolic pressure the pressure when your heart rests between beats
The highest number is always the systolic pressure and it’s always given first. For example, a blood pressure given as “120 over 80” or 120/80mmHg means a systolic pressure of 120mmHg and a diastolic pressure of 80mmHg.
As a general guide:
- normal blood pressure is considered to be between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg
- high blood pressure is considered to be 140/90mmHg or higher
- low blood pressure is considered to be 90/60mmHg or lower
If your reading is between 120/80mmHg and 140/90mmHg, you may be at risk of developing high blood pressure. There are things you can do to help prevent high blood pressure.
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What Is A High Blood Pressure Reading
You will probably be diagnosed with high blood pressure if your readings are consistently 140/90mmHg or higher over a number of weeks. This is the cut-off point many GPs use for diagnosing high blood pressure.
You might also have high blood pressure if just one of the numbers is higher than it should be so if the top number is over 140mmHg or the bottom number is over 90mmHg.
A single high reading doesnt necessarily mean you have high blood pressure, as many things can affect your blood pressure throughout the day and it could just be a one-off. If you have a high reading, your doctor or nurse will want to see if it stays high over time before diagnosing high blood pressure.
High Blood Pressure Treatment
The best way to lower blood pressure begins with changes you can make to your lifestyle to help lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease. Additionally, your doctor may prescribe medicine to lower your blood pressure. These are called antihypertensive medicines.
The goal of treatment is to reduce your blood pressure to normal levels. Your doctor may prescribe medicine thats easy to take and has few, if any, side effects. This treatment is highly successful. If your blood pressure can only be controlled with medicine, youll need to take the medicine for the rest of your life. It is common to need more than one medicine to help control your blood pressure. Dont stop taking the medicine without talking with your doctor. Otherwise, you may increase your risk of having a stroke or heart attack.
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Regular Blood Pressure Checks If Diagnosed With High Blood Pressure
If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, your blood pressure will need to be closely monitored until it is brought under control.
After your blood pressure has been controlled, your GP or practice nurse will measure your blood pressure at agreed regular intervals .
It is important you attend these appointments to ensure your blood pressure is being maintained within an acceptable range.
When You Should Go To The Hospital For Blood Pressure
When my blood pressure was a constant struggle, I used to wonder when you should go to the hospital for blood pressure. It wasnt an enjoyable thought and it would cause me more stress thinking about it. Knowing when to go to the hospital is something that everybody with blood pressure struggles needs to know. Because of this I did a lot of research on the topic and was surprised at my findings .
When you should go to the hospital for blood pressure? You should go to the hospital for blood pressure if after taking your BP for the 2nd time, either number is higher than 180/120 and you are experiencing any of the these symptoms:
- Chest Pain
- Difficulty Breathing
- Change In Vision
This post will explain to you in more detail the difference between when you should go to the hospital for blood pressure or just call your doctor. In addition, Ill let you know about the life threatening consequences that can occur if you fail to take action in this situation.
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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.
Exercise And Resting Blood Pressure
Many people think you should exercise hard to keep your blood pressure in control. However, there is no clear research about the relationship of resistance exercise and those who have high blood pressure. Kelly and Kelly conducted a research employing a powerful quantitative technique known as meta-analysis. The research was conducted to testify what is known about the use of resistance training as a non-pharmacological intervention in bring your blood pressure down to normal.
The results of this research confirmed that resistance exercise helped participants in lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure by 2% and 4% respectively. The length of training was between 6 and 30 weeks the mean training periods was of 14 weeks. Frequency was between 2 and 5 times a week with an average of three times a week. The range of intensity was from 30% to 90%1-RM. The total length of per session varied from 20 to 60 minutes with an average of 38 minutes. The number of sets was between 1 and 4, whereas the number of exercises was between 6 and 14.
How Blood Pressure Responses to Aerobic Exercise
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What Should Your Blood Pressure Be At Every Age
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!
Why Leg Bloodpressure Readings
Adding a leg blood pressure reading into the mix can offer you a much broader handle on the true health of your arteries.
“Blood pressure can be measured in the arm, leg or even the foot,” says Michael J. Blaha, MD, MPH, director of clinical research at the Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease, in Baltimore. “This can be accomplished with a routine automated blood pressure cuff, and a comparison of the blood pressure in the leg or foot to the blood pressure in the arm can uncover circulation problems in the peripheral circulation.”
According to experts at the Mayo Clinic, such circulation problems may be of particular concern to people who experience leg pain while walking. That could be a sign of peripheral arterial disease .
According to experts at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, PAD can develop when artery-clogging plaque builds up in the legs. Just like clogged heart arteries, PAD significantly raises the risk for a heart attack or stroke. The Mayo Clinic warns that about 10 percent of people older than 55 have it. When symptoms arise, getting an accurate PAD diagnosis sooner rather than later can be critical.
That’s where a quick, noninvasive and painless leg-based blood pressure reading can come in handy. Your doctor would first take an ankle-based blood pressure reading and then compare it with a standard arm blood pressure reading. The result is the so-called “ankle-brachial pressure index.”
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Who Should Have A Blood Pressure Check
All adults should have their blood pressure checked. Blood pressure becomes more common with age, so if youre over 40 you should have a blood pressure check at least every five years. Its a good idea to have a blood pressure check if you are younger as well, especially if you are carrying extra weight or have other .
What Can You Do To Protect Your Vision
Have your eyes checked regularly by an eye care professional either an ophthalmologist or optometrist. Finding and treating any problems early can help protect your vision and prevent vision loss. Make a list of your questions and concerns to share with the doctor. Tell them which medications you are taking. Some can affect your eyes.
Normal changes in the aging eye usually do not harm your vision. However, sometimes they can be signs of a more serious problem. For example, your eyes may leak tears. This can happen with light sensitivity, wind, or temperature changes. Sunglasses and eye drops may help. Sometimes, leaking tears may be a symptom of dry eye or sign of an infection or blocked tear duct. Your eye care professional can treat these problems.
Many people dont notice any signs or symptoms in the early stages of eye diseases. A dilated eye exam performed by an eye care professional is the only way to find some common eye diseases while theyre easier to treat and before they cause vision loss. Everyone over age 50 should have a dilated eye exam every year or as recommended by your eye care professional, even if you have good vision and dont wear contacts or glasses. After age 60, you should get a dilated eye exam every year or two. Most people with diabetes or high blood pressure need to get a dilated exam at least once a year.
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Diagnosing High Blood Pressure
The only way to find out whether you have high blood pressure is to have your blood pressure checked regularly. Ask your GP when you are next due for yours to be checked.
Before having your blood pressure taken, you should rest for at least five minutes and empty your bladder. To get an accurate blood pressure reading, you should be sitting down and not talking when the reading is taken.
Having one high blood pressure reading does not necessarily mean that you have high blood pressure. Your blood pressure can change throughout the day. Feeling anxious or stressed when you visit your GP can raise your blood pressure .
Therefore, your GP will need to take several readings over a set period of time, usually every month, to see whether your blood pressure level is consistently high.
Blood and urine tests may also be carried out in order to check for conditions that are known to cause an increase in blood pressure, such as kidney infections.
You may also be given a blood pressure device to take home so that you can record your blood pressure level throughout the day. This also helps to identify white coat syndrome and therefore helps to identify the best treatment options for you.
Habits For Promoting Healthy Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is greatly influenced by lifestyle, so most healthy people can properly manage blood pressure without medical intervention.
Keeping body weight within a normal range, eating a heart-healthy diet, decreasing mental stress and having a regular aerobic exercise routine can have a profound effect on blood pressure, Kazemi said.
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What Are Other Ways I Can Lower My Blood Pressure
In addition to taking medicine to control your blood pressure, you can take other steps to help keep your blood pressure levels healthy.
- Get regular physical activity. Staying physically active is one of the best things you can do for your health. Physical activity helps keep your heart and blood vessels strong. It also can help you keep a healthy weight.
- Do not smoke. Smoking damages your blood vessels and greatly increases your risk of not only high blood pressure but also heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
- Eat healthy foods. Choosing healthy meal and snack options can help you avoid high blood pressure and its complications. Be sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Keep a healthy weight. Having overweight or obesity means your heart must work harder to pump blood and oxygen around the body. Staying at a healthy weight reduces the stress on your heart and reduces your risk for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
Secondary High Blood Pressure
Some cases of high blood pressure are the result of underlying factors or cause and this is known as secondary high blood pressure.
Underlying factors include:
- kidney conditions, such as a kidney infection, or kidney disease
- narrowing of the arteries
- hormonal conditions, such as Cushing’s syndrome
- conditions that affect the bodys tissue, such as lupus
- medication, such as the oral contraceptive pill, or the type of painkillers that are known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , such as ibuprofen
- recreational drugs, such as cocaine, amphetamines and crystal meth
Occasionally, a rise in blood pressure can result from taking herbal remedies, such as herbal supplements.
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What Causes High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure usually develops over time. It can happen because of unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as not getting enough regular physical activity. Certain health conditions, such as diabetes and having obesity, can also increase the risk for developing high blood pressure. High blood pressure can also happen during pregnancy.
You can manage your blood pressure to lower your risk for serious health problems that may affect your heart, brain, kidneys, and eyes.
How Blood Pressure Is Tested
Blood pressure machines vary, but they’re all a type of measuring device, which often have an arm cuff attached to it.
The cuff is usually wrapped around your upper arm and filled with air until it feels tight. This can feel uncomfortable but it only lasts a few seconds.
It’s important to relax and not talk during this time, because this is when your blood pressure is measured.
If a healthcare professional is doing this for you, they may also use a stethoscope to record your blood pressure.
An automatic device usually picks up the measurements from sensors in the arm cuff, which are sent to a digital display.
You should get the results straight away.
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