High Blood Pressure: Understanding Blood Pressure (BP) Readings
Do not take your persistently increasing or dropping blood pressure lightly as it adds to the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other problems by pushing your heart and arteries to work harder. It could also be a sign of some underlying medical condition that needs timely treatment. Have your blood pressure taken by a primary care doctor to get a better understanding of the numbers and to get the best advice for living a healthy life. The top-rated cardiologists at the Century Medical and Dental Center use advanced diagnostic equipment and the latest research to know more about your condition and help to prevent risks of heart disease and other complications.
What Is Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure is the force of the blood as it pushes against the inner walls of the blood vessels, especially the arteries. Every time the heart contracts, it pumps blood into the arteries.
Your blood pressure does not stay constant throughout the day. It is low when you are asleep, and rises when you get up and start moving about. It can also go up when you are excited, nervous, or physically active. High blood pressure or hypertension and low blood pressure or hypotension are serious issues that can affect the performance of the heart in the long run and lead to other health complications if they are not managed timely.
Measuring and understanding blood pressure readings are crucial to heart and cardiovascular health. It is recorded by two numbers. The number on top is systolic, and the one on the bottom is the diastolic pressure.
Systolic blood pressure
It refers to the blood pressure in the arteries when the heart contracts or beats, pushing the blood out.
Diastolic blood pressure
When the heart relaxes between the beats, the blood pressure in the arteries falls. It is diastolic pressure. Diastolic blood pressure increases with age as the arteries stiffen and narrow.
What Is a Normal Blood Pressure Reading?
The blood pressure reading is expressed as a ratio of the systolic pressure, or the first number over the diastolic pressure, or the second number. A blood pressure of 120/80 mmHg (millimeters of mercury) is expressed verbally as 120 over 80.
The normal blood pressure reading is one in which you get:
- A systolic pressure that is above 90 mm Hg and less than 120 mm Hg;
- A diastolic pressure that is between 60 mm Hg and less than 80 mm Hg.
According to the American Heart Association, your blood pressure is within the normal ranges when the systolic and diastolic numbers are within these ranges. You must maintain a healthy lifestyle and monitor the risk factors to prevent high blood pressure, particularly if it runs in your family.
What Is High Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure numbers greater than 120/80 mm Hg are considered high. They are a warning sign and must be taken seriously. When your systolic pressure is between 120 and 129 mm Hg, and your diastolic pressure is less than 80 mm Hg, it means you have elevated blood pressure. If this raised blood pressure reading persists, it means you must pay attention to your heart health and seek medical attention.
It is important to note that while a blood pressure reading of 120/80 mm Hg is not technically considered high, you begin to move out of the normal range. Elevated blood pressure can turn into high blood pressure with time, which puts you at increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
At this stage, you do not need medication. But you must see a doctor to learn about the importance of a healthy lifestyle such as regular exercise, eating a balanced diet, and managing your weight to avoid any critical heart complications.
Signs and Symptoms of High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure or hypertension is called the silent killer as long-term high blood pressure can lead to multiple problems, including heart attack, kidney failure, or stroke. All these conditions are dangerous and affect your quality of health and life.
Symptoms associated with hypertension include:
- Shortness of breath;
- Blurred vision;
- The feeling of pulsations in the neck or head;
People at risk of hypertension must keep a closer check on their blood pressure and contact their healthcare provider if it is on the higher side at least twice a week.
Important Points to Remember
When taking blood pressure, you should remember the following significant points:
- When systolic and diastolic blood pressures fall into different categories, the higher category is used for classifying high blood pressure. For instance, 160/80 mmHg would be stage 2 hypertension (high blood pressure).
- Isolated systolic hypertension is graded according to the same level of systolic BP.
Measure Accurate Blood Pressure at Home
You can measure your blood pressure at home and get accurate readings with the help of a digital blood pressure device available at most pharmacies.
Go through the instructions and check with your primary care doctor if you have any questions or concerns. The right time to take a blood pressure reading is when you are at rest.
Tips to ensure the accuracy of blood pressure reading
Some top tips to ensure the accuracy of your blood pressure reading include:
- Sitting in a comfortable position;
- Placing your left arm raised to the level of your heart on a table or desk;
- Staying still;
- Wrapping the cuff of the BP monitor smoothly and snugly around the upper part of your bare arm.
Some Surprising Facts About Blood Pressure Reading
Health experts have found that the time of the day and time of the year can influence blood pressure readings by as much as 40%.
In addition to this, blood pressure also fluctuates with the emotional state of the individual as well as the level of physical activity. You can make your results more comparable if you take blood pressure at the same time every day, under resting or neutral conditions on more than one occasion.
You must remember that a single blood pressure reading does not necessarily classify your wellbeing. An average of blood pressure readings taken over time is the most accurate and provides you with a more accurate analysis of your existing health and heart condition.
Learning the right way to measure your blood pressure is very important. It can save you from various heart issues and health complications in the long run.
The experienced and board-certified doctors in NYC understand your need to know more about your blood pressure levels and guide you on taking accurate measurements at home. The top-rated cardiologists at the Century Medical and Dental Center help you maintain good cardiac health by recommending the best ways to avoid hypertension. They will do everything possible to give you the energetic and active lifestyle you desire with a healthy diet, regular exercise, and normal blood pressure.