We’ve all heard of blood pressure at least once in our lifetimes; its the evil behind many serious diseases. Blood pressure being the root cause of many serious diseases should be kept in check and for that, regular blood pressure measurement is important; especially for hypertensive individuals.
Hypertension or high blood pressure can be diagnosed only by measuring the blood pressure using a sphygmomanometer. No blood tests or imaging scans can diagnose this disease. If you have been recently diagnosed with hypertension or are checking the blood pressure of a loved one, it is essential to understand what the readings actually mean.
Blood Pressure Categories
Let’s begin with understanding your blood pressure numbers and what they mean.
Systolic blood pressure (First number) – This highlights how much pressure your blood is exerting against the artery walls when the heart beats.
Diastolic blood pressure (second number) – This highlights how much pressure the blood is exerting against the artery walls while the heart is resting between beats.
If your blood pressure levels are less than 120/80 mm Hg, it is considered normal and you should continue with heart healthy habits like getting regular exercise and maintaining a balanced diet.
Elevated blood pressure is when readings range from less than 80 mm Hg diastolic and 120-129 systolic. Those who have an elevated blood pressure are prone to develop high blood pressure unless steps are taken to maintain the condition.
Hypertension Stage 1
Hypertension Stage 1 is when blood pressure ranges from 130-139 systolic or 80-89 mm Hg diastolic. At this stage, you’re more likely to develop health issues such as atherosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attack or stroke. Doctors are likely to suggest lifestyle changes and may consider adding blood pressure medication.
Hypertension Stage 2
Hypertension Stage 2 is when blood pressure ranges from 140/90 mm Hg or higher. At this stage, doctors are likely to recommend blood pressure medications and lifestyle changes.
This is the stage of high blood pressure that requires immediate medical attention. If you find that your blood pressure readings exceed 180/120 mm Hg then you should wait a few minutes and test your blood pressure again. If the readings are still high, you should contact your healthcare provider immediately as you could be experiencing a hypertensive crisis.
If you find that your blood pressure is higher than 180/120 mm Hg and you’re experiencing signs of organ damage such as chest pain, shortness of breath, back pain, difficulty in speech, change in vision, or numbness, do not wait for your blood pressure to decrease, instead, contact your doctor immediately.
Healthy and Unhealthy Blood Pressure Ranges
According to the American Heart Association, below are the considered ‘normal’ blood pressure readings.
Systolic or Diastolic: Which Number is More Important?
Usually, more attention is given to systolic blood pressure (the first number) as it’s a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases typically for people over 50. In most cases, systolic blood pressure rises steadily alongside age because of increasing stiffness of large arteries, long term build-up of plaque and an increased occurrence of cardiac and vascular diseases.
Understanding that keeping your blood pressure in the normal range is crucial in preventing complications such as heart disease and stroke. A combination of healthy lifestyle habits and medications can help lower your blood pressure.
However, remember that a single blood pressure reading doesn’t necessarily classify your health. An average of blood pressure readings taken over time is the most accurate. That’s why it’s often ideal to have your blood pressure taken by a healthcare professional at least once a year. You may require more frequent checks if your readings are high.
Stay happy, Stay healthy!