Blood pressure is a measurement of the force at which blood is pushed through your body. The measurement of the heart exertions pushing the blood into the arteries is known as systolic pressure. The measurement when the heart relaxes and refills with blood is the diastolic pressure. Blood pressure in general is given as the combination of both these readings.
Both numbers are important, though some health professionals put a bit more focus on the lower number because it reflects how hard the heart is working even when at rest. A person’s health is judged by where they fall within a range on a blood pressure chart that includes both the systolic and diastolic numbers. There is a normal range, as well as a high and low normal, borderline, hypo and hypertension, and levels that require medical assistance.
High and Low Blood Pressure
A person is only considered to have low blood pressure if the measurement is low AND they have symptoms of low blood pressure. For instance, if a person has a below normal measurement, but is not experiencing dizziness, faintness, blurred vision, or any other symptoms associated with low blood pressure, they are not considered to have a blood pressure problem. Like body temperature, normal is relative and some people tend to run slightly low. This is especially true for athletes and children.
On the other hand, even moderately high blood pressure can be a sign of a problem. Though slightly elevated blood pressure could be no reason for concern, it is important to pinpoint the cause of the elevation and see if there are any changes you can make to bring it within the normal range.
Blood Pressure Ranges
Understanding blood pressure ranges can be confusing. It is important to know what is normal for you and understand what can create readings that are higher or lower than normal. Some people panic when they visit their doctor and their blood pressure spikes, but this is normal. If you are concerned, test your blood pressure at home throughout the day for the course of a week or month. As long as you remain within the normal range most of the time, you probably do not have a reason to worry.
The “ideal” blood pressure reading is 120/80. If you have a systolic number within 10 points high or low of this and a diastolic number within five points high or low, you have healthy blood pressure. There are healthy people with readings at low as 90/60 who show no symptoms of low blood pressure and function normally. This is why it is important to understand what is normal for you.
Higher numbers slip into the danger territory with stricter guidelines. A systolic number between 130 and 140 with a diastolic ranging from 85 to 90 is considered high normal. If you are eating right, exercising, maintaining a healthy weight, and managing stress, but this is your number, there is likely very little you can do to change it.
Anyone with blood pressure over 140/90 has cause for concern. Again, blood pressure can spike at certain times, so track your readings. However, if you know there are things you can do to improve your health, do them and see if your blood pressure decreases.
If you reach a range of 160/100 or above, you are in need of medical support. You and your doctor should be working together to monitor your blood pressure and doing everything possible to get a reading in the normal range.