Getting your blood pressure taken is a normal part of any doctor’s visit. With almost half of adults suffering from high blood pressure, it is important to keep tabs on how yours is doing. High blood pressure or hypertension shows that your heart is working too hard and is dangerous for your body if it is prolonged over time. Sometimes blood pressure rises gradually over time. Read on to find out how to understand your blood pressure ranges.
What is the difference between top and bottom numbers?
Your blood pressure is expressed in two numbers that are commonly referred to as the top and bottom numbers. These numbers are also called systolic (top) and diastolic (bottom). These numbers are expressed like a fraction as in 120/80 mm Hg. When blood pressure is taken it is measured by millimeters of mercury or mm Hg.
The top number of your blood pressure tells you how much pressure your veins and arteries sustain as your heart pumps. On the other hand, your bottom number measures the pressure on your blood vessels. Your blood pressure numbers give an important clue into your heart health.
Blood Pressure Ranges
There are 5 stages of blood pressure levels. It is important to know in what range your blood pressure falls. This way you will know if you’re at healthy levels or if you will need additional help to maintain your blood pressure.
A healthy and normal blood pressure range typically falls around 120/80 and above 90/60. If your numbers fall within this range, you should just continue to maintain a healthy lifestyle and regular exercise. A healthy diet helps many to stay within normal ranges.
If you find that you have consistent BP readings of 120-129 systolic and less than 80 diastolic, that is considered elevated blood pressure. Although your doctor may not recommend medications at this point, you are considered at risk for developing hypertension.
Stage 1 Hypertension
Stage 1 hypertension is diagnosed when you have consistent blood pressure measurements of 130/139 systolic and 80/89 diastolic. Doctors will often recommend lifestyle and diet changes at this point and may consider putting you on high blood pressure medication.
Stage 2 Hypertension
If your blood pressure is 140/90 and above, this is considered stage 2 hypertension. This is a more serious health condition and puts you at higher risk for heart disease and stroke. Most likely you will need a combination of lifestyle changes and blood pressure medication to lower your blood pressure.
Blood pressure that is 180/120 is considered a hypertension crisis. If you take your BP and receive a reading this high or higher, wait a few minutes and take it again. If your readings remain high, seek out medical advice. Chest pain, numbness, shortness of breath, or changes in your vision are signs that you could be having a serious medical problem and you should call 911 or go to the closet emergency room.
A healthy lifestyle is important for those with good blood pressure and those wanting to lower their readings. Your doctor can advise you on what lifestyle changes you need to make to maintain healthy BP levels.