31-05-2021 / Heart & Vascular

What does my blood pressure reading mean?

To check whether we have High BP or Low BP is to test blood pressure. Having a thorough knowledge about the results of blood pressure results is the key to control it. This article discusses blood pressure readings and its significance.

What does my blood pressure reading mean?
Mazia AhmedMazia Ahmed

Mazia Ahmed

MSc Nutrition Science, Ph.D. Scholar

Topic of Content

1. Introduction

2. Blood Pressure Reading

3. Preventive Measures to Control Blood Pressure

4. Word of Wisdom

Introduction

Whenever we visit a doctor, the first thing they do is wrap a belt around our arms and pump the ball of that instrument. They keep checking the reading and then note it down on the prescription in a U/L manner along with pumping. It is the blood pressure reading. Blood pressure or hypertension can be defined as the pressure exerted on the walls of blood vessels by the circulating blood. And the reading taken to measure blood pressure is called blood pressure reading, which is determined by the uphill movement of the mercury. The cause of checking the blood pressure is to ensure that it is normal or not. The normal blood pressure for a healthy adult is 120/80 mmHg. More than normal or less than normal blood pressure readings can be hazardous to health. 

Taking Blood Pressure

Blood Pressure Reading

  • As mentioned above, the blood pressure is expressed with the help of two numbers, one at the top and the other at the bottom, in a U/L fashion. The number that occupies the upper position is termed systolic pressure, and the diastolic pressure occupies the lower position. The systolic pressure is always greater than the diastolic pressure, and the unit of blood pressure reading is mmHg, like 120/80 mmHg.

  • Systolic pressure can be defined as the pressure exerted on the arteries during the heart muscle contraction. 

  • Diastolic pressure can be defined as the exerted blood pressure on the heart muscle in between the heartbeats. 

  • Both the numbers play a crucial role in determining the state of the heart, as a rising number is an indicator that the heart is sweating hard to pump blood to the different parts of the body. 

Depending upon the amount of spike in blood pressure reading, blood pressure is categorized into several categories that are listed below: 

What does my blood pressure reading mean

1. Normal Reading

  • What's a normal reading in blood pressure? A blood pressure reading is normal when the upper or systolic pressure is present between 90 to 120 mmHg and the lower or diastolic pressure is present between 60 to 80 mmHg. This means any reading between 90/60 mmHg and 120/80 mmHg is considered normal blood pressure in humans. This normal blood pressure reading can vary according to the age and gender of a person, like a higher-aged person will have a higher normal blood pressure than a young individual. But, if the individual is female, she will have a lower blood pressure than a male. 

  • Maintaining normal blood pressure is crucial, as it can fluctuate with our daily habits, weight gain, stress, etc. Hence, a regular workout session and a healthy diet will keep the medication away for a person with normal blood pressure. 

2. Elevated Blood Pressure

Touching the mark of elevated blood pressure in the reading can be a matter of concern, as this can lead to a high blood pressure state in the future if neglected. This means the systolic pressure reading between 120 to 129 mm Hg and the diastolic reading more than 80 mm Hg is considered elevated blood pressure. These numbers are just above the normal range, which indicates the need for good heart health habits. If ignored initially, this can lead to high blood pressure, making the person more prone to heart disease and stroke. Even a few doctors state this stage as the prehypertension stage. This isn't a stage that requires medication, and elevated blood pressure can be reduced to normal by adopting a healthier lifestyle and healthier diet

3. Hypertension Stage-1

  • This is the first stage of concern as the blood pressure reading rises to systolic pressure between 130 to 139 mm Hg and the diastolic pressure between 80 to 89 mm Hg. If the reading reaches this mark, then the person is diagnosed with hypertension or high blood pressure. Getting only one high reading within a period isn't a matter of concern or cannot be determined as high blood pressure. To determine the high blood pressure, doctors track the blood pressure for a period and then take its average to declare high blood pressure. 

  • Once the person is diagnosed with high blood pressure, he/she should be kept under medication. If the person is a heart patient, then the medication should be continued, and healthy habits should be added to life like workouts and a heart-friendly diet, etc. 

4. Hypertension Stage-2

This level is the indicator for severity in elevating blood pressure. The hypertension stage-2 is determined when the systolic pressure reaches above 140 mm Hg, and the diastolic pressure reaches 90 mm Hg or more. This spike should be persistent throughout the period to term it as the second stage, or the person should be already diagnosed with hypertension stage 1. To treat this stage of hypertension, medication is the most important thing to keep the rising blood pressure normal, while adding a better lifestyle and food habits becomes necessary. Some of the most common medicines suggested by doctors in this stage are:

  • ACE Inhibitors: They relax or loosen the blood vessel by blocking substances that tighten the blood vessel. 

  • Alpha-blockers: Their role is to relax the arteries.

  • Beta-blockers: This helps in reducing the heart rate. 

  • Calcium channel blockers: These medicines help relax the blood vessels and ease the work done by the heart. 

  • Diuretics: This helps in reducing the amount of fluid present in the body, including blood vessels. 

5. Hypertensive Crisis

  • Also called the danger zone, which means the blood pressure reading is above 180 mm Hg as systolic pressure or diastolic pressure above 120 mm Hg. This is a severe health issue that requires immediate action or urgent treatment to lower the blood pressure, or else it will be fatal. If a person gets the following symptoms, then he/she should measure the blood pressure. The symptoms that can be seen are chest pain, shortness of breath, visual changes, stroke, and symptoms like loss in muscle control, blood in urine, dizziness, or headache. 

  • Generally, multiple symptoms are seen in a hypertensive person. Still, if the person has measured the blood pressure before getting these symptoms and found it to be in the danger zone, they should opt for immediate treatment. But, sometimes, the spike is seen only once, and then it returns to normal. Hence, if the person gets a spike in blood pressure, the blood pressure should be re-measured after a few seconds. 

6. Low Blood Pressure or Hypotension 

This is the condition where the blood pressure drops down below the normal range, i.e., 90/60 mm Hg. Dropping blood pressure is not a matter of concern but, an excessive drop in it can lower oxygenated blood supply to the body and heart. This reduced supply can be dangerous to the person. Hence, consult a doctor to get the proper treatment for low blood pressure before it turns critical.

Hypertension Facts And Figures in India

Preventive Measures to Control Blood Pressure

Blood pressure control is a crucial element in a person's life as it can lead to several unwanted diseases as we age. Hence, before it gets worse, take these preventive measures now. 

1. Reduce Sodium Intake

Excessive sodium can lead to hypertension as the limit for a normal human is 2300 mg sodium per day, while a person with hypertension should not take more than 1500 mg per day. This means, reducing the intake of salt in food should be done first.

2. Reduce Caffeine Intake

Some hypertension patients are sensitive to caffeine. Hence everyone should consult with their doctors if they are sensitive to caffeine or not. If yes, then reduce the intake of caffeine. 

3. Exercise or Workout

Workout is a solution to many diseases like hypertension, as it keeps the heart rate normal and suppresses the blood pressure. 

4. Maintain Body Weight

Overweight has an impact on blood pressure. Hence it is suggested to keep the normal weight maintained to avoid issues like hypertension. 

5. Manage Stress

Stress is another cause for a hike in blood pressure readings. Hence, by doing meditation, yoga, or moderate exercise, try to control the anger or avoid unnecessary stress. 

6. Reduce Alcohol Consumption And Cigarette Smoking

Both smoking and drinking can be harmful to a person as they can raise the blood pressure level. Drinking should be avoided as per the need, but smoking should not be done at any point. 

Word of Wisdom

High blood pressure (hypertension) is a common issue that most young and aged citizens worldwide are facing. This issue is unavoidable as it increases with age and stress in life. This can be maintained to normal value if precautions are taken accordingly and prescribed medications if needed. 


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