In This Video Learn The Difference Between Systolic Blood Pressure And Diastolic Blood Pressure
Your doctor reviews the vital signs that the nurse recorded earlier in the appointment. Hmm, your systolic reading is high, she says.
Your blood pressure consists of two separate numbers: your systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure. Together, the two numbers in a blood pressure reading represent the measure of the force of blood exerted on the artery walls. These readings are crucial for understanding your cardiovascular health, since high blood pressure doesnt cause symptoms.
The top number is your systolic blood pressure. This represents the pressure on artery walls when the heart beats. Thats why this number is higher: The blood obviously has more force while its being given a push by the heart.
A normal systolic reading is below 120 mm Hg . This means the heart doesnt have to work too hard to pump blood throughout the body, so the rest of your body easily receives the oxygen and nutrients it needs to run smoothly.
Alternatively, if systolic blood pressure is high, that means the heart is working harder to distribute blood, and that extra force on the artery walls can cause damage over time.
Systolic blood pressure tends to rise as you age due to stiffening arteries and plaque buildup, but lifestyle factors and medical history can exacerbate or alleviate this age-related trend. Risk factors for high blood pressure include things like:
Tips For Measuring Your Blood Pressure
- Sit for at least 5 minutes before your blood pressure is measured.
- Do not smoke or drink caffeine 30 minutes before you measure your blood pressure.
- If you are nervous when you go to the doctor, you could have a false high blood pressure reading. This is called white coat syndrome. If this happens, your doctor may ask you to: Use a blood pressure monitor to check your blood pressure throughout the day. You can bring a record of your readings to your appointments.
Some people are asked to wear a blood pressure monitor for 24 hours. The monitor is usually set to take blood pressure every 15 to 30 minutes as you go about your normal activities.
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.
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Checking Blood Pressure At Home
Keeping track of blood pressure at home is important for many people, especially if you have high blood pressure. This helps you and your doctor find out if your treatment is working.
Your doctor may also suggest that you check your pressure at home if they think you may have “white coat hypertension.” It’s a real condition. The stress of being in a doctor’s office raises your blood pressure, but when you’re home, it’s normal.
Ask your doctor to recommend an easy-to-use home blood pressure monitor. Make sure the cuff fits properly. If your arm is too big for the cuff, the reading may be higher than your blood pressure really is. Ask your doctor for a larger cuff or make sure you buy a home monitor with a cuff that fits you.
You also can use a wrist blood pressure monitor, but they often aren’t as accurate. Follow the directions that come with the device to make sure you are using it correctly.
No matter which type of blood pressure monitor you have, it’s a good idea to take it to your doctor’s office. You can compare its reading to the numbers your doctor gets. Avoid caffeine, cigarettes, and exercise for at least 30 minutes before the test.
When you take your blood pressure at home, sit up straight in a chair and put both feet on the floor. Ask your doctor or nurse to show you the right way to position your arm so you get accurate readings.
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.
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How To Measure Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury, mmHg. It consists of two numbers, such as 130/80, which we say as 130 over 80. The first is your systolic blood pressure, the maximum pressure your blood attains as your heart beats and pushes it around your body. The second is your diastolic pressure, the minimum level it reaches between beats.
Diagnosing High Or Low Blood Pressure
Only one of your numbers needs to be higher than it should be to be diagnosed with high blood pressure, and only one needs to be lower than it should be to be diagnosed with low blood pressure.
So if your top number is over 140 or the bottom number is over 90, you may be diagnosed with , regardless of the other number. If your top number is under 90 or your bottom number is under 60, you may be diagnosed with . Use the to see where your numbers sit.
If your top number is consistently higher than 140mmHg, but the bottom number is healthy – this is known as Isolated Systolic Hypertension. If the bottom number is consistently higher than 90mmHg but the top number is healthy – this is known as Isolated Diastolic Hypertension.
Making sure your readings arent a one-off
A single high reading doesnt necessarily mean you have high blood pressure, as many things can affect your blood pressure throughout the day, such as the temperature, when you last ate, and if youre feeling stressed.
Your doctor or nurse will probably want to measure your blood pressure a number of times over a few weeks to make sure the reading wasnt just a one off and that your blood pressure stays high over time.
Read about how , getting a , the you might have if you have a high blood pressure reading, and .
Find out why systolic blood pressure is the most important when it comes to keeping an eye on your numbers.
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Medications For High Blood Pressure
There is a large variety of medicines available to lower and manage high blood pressure. Your doctor may call them antihypertensives, .
These medications do not cure high blood pressure, but they do help manage it. Once you start to take medicines to manage your blood pressure, you may need to take them for the rest of your life. However, the dose of these medicines may change over time.
If you need to take medication, your doctor will advise you on the correct type and dose. Two or more different medications are often needed to manage blood pressure.
Make sure you take your medicines regularly. Some things that may help you remember to take them include:
- Building them into your daily routine by taking them at the same time each day.
- Keeping them somewhere that will remind you such as next to your alarm, or with your coffee or tea.
- Using a weekly pill box.
- Asking a family member or friend to remind you.
- Always carrying a list of your medicines and their doses with you.
- Entering a daily alarm in your mobile phone or download an app to remind you.
Take any blood pressure medicine exactly as prescribed. Dont stop or change your medicine, unless your doctor advises you to.
When The Higher Blood Pressure Number Is Important
If you have a higher than normal systolic blood pressure number combined with a lower diastolic number you have a common type of high blood pressure that doctors refer to as isolated systolic hypertension 30919-6/pdf” rel=”nofollow”> resource). Its the most common form of high blood pressure in people older than age 65, but its possible for younger people to have it also.
Isolated Systolic Hypertension Can Cause The Following Serious Health Issues:
- Heart disease
- Chronic kidney disease
In people ages 50 and over, most studies show a greater risk of stroke and heart disease related to the higher number compared with an elevated lower number. This is why doctors tend to monitor the top number more closely. This is so because the higher number rises steadily with age due to the following:
- Increasing stiffness of large arteries
- Long-term buildup of plaque
- An increased incidence of cardiac and vascular disease
For people of all ages, a higher upper blood pressure number can also be caused by an overactive thyroid or diabetes.
According to recent studies, for people aged from 40 to 89, for every 20 mm Hg increase in systolic blood pressure the risk of death from ischemic heart disease and stroke doubles . Ischemic heart disease, also called coronary heart disease, is caused when the narrowed arteries in the heart receive less blood and oxygen which can lead to a heart attack.
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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.
Which Number Is Most Important
Both. Having a high number in either systolic or diastolic pressure can lead to a diagnosis of hypertension . However, systolic pressure tends to get more attention because high systolic blood pressure is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease for people over 50, and it can indicate major cardiac events.
Also note: Heart rate and blood pressure are not the same, and they can indicate different issues. The American Heart Association reports that blood pressure measures the force that blood moves through blood vessels, and heart rate measures the amount of times your heart beats per minute. Having a healthy heart rate does not necessarily mean your blood pressure is in a healthy range. Both measurements are important, but one does not replace the other.
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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.
Who Is Affected By High Blood Pressure
Approximately 1 in 3, more than 100 million, American adults have high blood pressure. But only half of those people have their condition under control. Many people develop high blood pressure when they are in their late 30s or early 40s, and it occurs more frequently as people age. However, because of the obesity epidemic, more and more children are also developing high blood pressure.
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What Does It Mean If My Systolic Is High But My Diastolic Is Normal
If your systolic blood pressure is elevated, but your diastolic blood pressure is normal, it is called isolated systolic hypertension. This is defined as a systolic reading of 130 mmHg or higher and a diastolic reading of less than 80 mmHg.
Isolated systolic hypertension is a common form of hypertension in elderly individuals , but it can occur in younger people too. High systolic blood pressure puts you at risk of heart attack, stroke, and chronic kidney disease. Isolated systolic hypertension is believed to occur due to stiff arteries. It may be associated with obesity, diabetes, hyperthyroidism , and heart valve abnormalities.
So, in a nutshell, both the systolic and diastolic pressure readings are important. Elevated blood pressure increases your risk of serious health consequences. Thats why it is important to monitor your blood pressure regularly. If either your systolic pressure or your diastolic pressure or both are high, you should consult a healthcare professional who can provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment for hypertension, as appropriate.
What Foods Help Lower Blood Pressure
If your blood pressure reads consistently higher than 130/80 when you are in a lying down position, you are considered to have high blood pressure.
While limiting alcohol consumption and avoiding smoking are the best ways to lower blood pressure, changes to your diet are important as well. Below are examples of foods that can help you bring your blood pressure under control:
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British Columbia Specific Information
High blood pressure, also called hypertension, can damage your blood vessels, heart and kidneys. This damage can cause a heart attack, stroke or other health problems. Your blood pressure reading is based on two measurements called systolic and diastolic. The systolic and diastolic are written as a ratio, for example . A reading of more than 140/90 mmHg taken at your healthcare providers office may indicate high blood pressure. This figure is different for people with diabetes whose blood pressure should be below 130/80 mmHg. People suffering from other illnesses will have different target normal values. For more information on hypertension, visit the Heart & Stroke Foundation and Hypertension Canada.
Healthy lifestyle choices can help lower your blood pressure and improve your health. For information on healthy eating for lowering your blood pressure, see:
You may also call 8-1-1 to speak to a registered dietitian, Monday to Friday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., or you can Email a HealthLinkBC Dietitian.
What Treatments Are Available For Patients With High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Without treatment, you can have a transient ischemic attack or stroke, heart attack, enlarged heart, heart failure, peripheral vascular disease , aneurysms, kidney disease, and broken blood vessels in your eyes. Treatment includes making changes recommended by your healthcare provider.
Diet and lifestyle changes:
- Reach and stay at your ideal body weight
- Get regular exercise
- Eat a well-balanced, heart healthy diet that is low in salt, fat and cholesterol, and contains lots of fresh fruits and vegetables*
- *Your diet is an important part of blood pressure control. The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension eating plan and limiting sodium help control blood pressure. Ask your doctor to refer you to a dietitian for a more personalized eating plan. More information is available from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute at www.nhlbi.nih.gov or the American Heart Association at www.americanheart.org*
Medications and follow-up care: