ONS Daily

Understanding Blood Pressure: Maintaining 2 Optimal Levels for a Healthy Heart

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Pinterest
Pocket
WhatsApp

Understanding Blood Pressure and its Level

Understanding blood pressure readings can be tricky. While most people know they don’t want their blood pressure to get too high (hypertension) or too low (hypotension), many people don’t know how to tell the difference. Some also don’t understand what blood pressure means.

Understanding Blood Pressure: Maintaining Optimal Levels for a Healthy Heart

“Blood pressure is a measure of the force necessary to move blood from the heart to vital organs and limbs around the body,” explains Viet Le, an associate professor of preventive cardiology and physician associate at Intermountain Health.

No one wants high blood pressure. Here’s the secret to keeping it low (but not too low)

Measuring how the heart rests between heartbeats and the force of blood against the walls of one’s arteries is what taking one’s blood pressure is all about.

What do blood pressure numbers mean?

Understanding Blood Pressure numbers: Blood pressure is measured using two numbers that are typically recorded as one number over another. The first, or top, number represents one’s systolic blood pressure and measures “the force of your heart pumping blood through your arteries,” says Barbara Olendzki, an associate professor of population and quantitative health sciences at UMass Chan Medical School. “Certain conditions may make this higher, thus making your heart work harder.”

The second, or bottom, number represents one’s diastolic blood pressure – the pressure that occurs when the heart rests between heartbeats – the time when the heart fills with blood and obtains oxygen. “Both measures are important,” Olendzki says.

Understanding Blood Pressure: Maintaining 2 Optimal Levels for a Healthy Heart

What is a healthy blood pressure?

“Generally speaking, a healthy blood pressure is a systolic number of 120 or below, and a diastolic number in the 70s or 80s,” explains Dr. Efrosini Barish, a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at NYU Grossman School of Medicine. “Though there is some fluctuation in those guidelines for individuals,” she adds.

Broken down, the American Heart Association shows that normal systolic blood pressure is below 120, elevated blood pressure is when the top number is between 120 and 129, and high blood pressure is when the systolic number is 130 to 139. There’s also a higher stage of blood pressure known as hypertension stage 2, which is a systolic number of 140 or more, plus a crisis level that’s reached when one’s systolic level climbs higher than 180. Any systolic blood pressure level that high requires immediate medical attention.

As for the bottom number, normal diastolic blood pressure is lower than 80, and high blood pressure starts when the diastolic number is between 80 and 89. Hypertension stage 2 occurs when that bottom number gets higher than 90.

Understanding Blood Pressure: What happens when it is too high or too low?

While higher stages of hypertension are especially worrisome, Le notes that vascular-related diseases such as heart attacks, aneurysms, strokes, eye damage, and kidney damage “can occur when pressures are even slightly elevated (130/80) for sustained periods of time.” And though hypertension is usually considered more dangerous than hypotension, low blood pressure can cause worrisome symptoms as well. These include fatigue, dizziness or lightheadedness, nausea, trouble thinking, or blurred vision.

Le suggests thinking of high blood pressure like a garden hose being hooked up to a fire hydrant, and the damage that would cause to the hose (arteries) or any apparatuses (organs) it’s connected to, and to think of low blood pressure as being similar to what a drought would do to lakes and streams. “The surrounding or downstream organs will suffer from not getting appropriate amounts of blood flow and may also become damaged,” he explains.

Many factors affect one’s blood pressure, including heart disease, dehydration, activity levels, stress, medications, and certain foods. “For those individuals who are struggling with high blood pressure, the number one cause seems to be from a high-sodium diet,” says Doris Chan, a cardiologist at NYU Langone Hospital in Brooklyn. “Make a conscious effort to eliminate foods high in salt, and watch your blood pressure start to normalize.”

Understanding Blood Pressure: Maintaining 2 Optimal Levels for a Healthy Heart

Barish agrees and also stresses the importance of having one’s blood pressure checked often. “The best way to avoid problems is to see your doctor regularly,” she advises. “Especially if you’re older than 40, have medical issues, or have a family history of hypertension.”

Related Post:

FAQs about the Understanding Blood Pressure

  1. What is Understanding Blood Pressure?
    • Understanding Blood Pressure is a measure of the force exerted by blood against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps it through the body. It is represented by two numbers, systolic and diastolic.
  2. What does the systolic blood pressure number mean?
    • The systolic number represents the force exerted on artery walls when the heart contracts and pumps blood. It reflects the pressure during each heartbeat.
  3. What does the diastolic blood pressure number mean?
    • The diastolic number represents the pressure on artery walls when the heart is at rest between beats. It reflects the pressure during the heart’s relaxation phase.
  4. What is a healthy blood pressure range?
    • A healthy blood pressure is generally considered to be a systolic number of 120 or below and a diastolic number in the 70s or 80s. However, individual variations may exist.
  5. What is elevated blood pressure?
    • Elevated blood pressure falls between the normal range and high blood pressure. It is characterized by a systolic number between 120 and 129.
  6. When is blood pressure considered high?
    • High blood pressure, or hypertension, is defined as a systolic number of 130 or higher. It is categorized further into stage 1 (130-139) and stage 2 (140 or higher).
  7. What is a hypertensive crisis?
    • A hypertensive crisis occurs when the systolic blood pressure reaches 180 or higher, requiring immediate medical attention.
  8. Can low blood pressure be a concern?
    • While high blood pressure is generally considered more dangerous, low blood pressure (hypotension) can also cause symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, nausea, and blurred vision. It is important to address any concerning symptoms with a healthcare professional.
  9. What can cause high blood pressure?
    • Several factors can contribute to high blood pressure, including heart disease, dehydration, stress, certain medications, and a high-sodium diet.
  10. How can I maintain a healthy blood pressure?
    • To maintain a healthy blood pressure, it is recommended to follow a balanced diet low in sodium, engage in regular physical activity, manage stress levels, stay hydrated, and have regular check-ups with a healthcare provider, especially if you are over 40, have medical conditions, or a family history of hypertension.
Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Pinterest
Pocket
WhatsApp

Never miss any important news. Subscribe to our newsletter.

Leave a comment

Recent News