How to Interpret Blood Pressure Readings Correctly

How to Interpret Blood Pressure Readings Correctly

The best way to maintain healthy blood pressure numbers is to understand the readings so that you can keep them at normal levels. But, how well do you understand blood pressure readings? Blood pressure is measured as systolic vs. diastolic per millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). Millimeters of mercury is the standard unit of blood pressure. The numerator is the systolic reading while the denominator is the diastolic reading.

The systolic pressure represents the amount of pressure in the arteries when your heart contracts. On the other hand, the diastolic pressure represents blood pressure exerted on the arterial walls when the heart is relaxing in between the beats. Blood pressure is written as 120/80 mm Hg and read as “120 over 80 millimeters of mercury.” For you to understand these readings, it is important to know the various levels of blood pressure.

How to Interpret Blood Pressure Readings Correctly

5 Major Blood Pressure Ranges


1. Normal Blood Pressure 

Normal blood pressure is one with a reading that ranges from 90 to 120 systolic pressure and 60 to 80 diastolic pressure. A healthy adult ought to have a reading of 120/80 mm Hg or 90/60 mm Hg. When your readings are within this range, then, your blood pressure is considered normal based on the American Heart Association guidelines. In case you are within the normal ranges, you should maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle. Doing so will keep you safe from medical complications such as hypertension. 

2. Elevated Blood Pressure 

Readings ranging from 120-129 mm Hg systolic and less than 80 mm Hg diastolic are considered elevated. An elevated blood pressure exposes you to the risk of developing blood pressure, which in turn causes stroke and heart disease. Therefore, you need to consult your doctor when you realize that blood pressure has risen. Often, no medication is required to control your blood pressure. However, you ought to embrace a healthy lifestyle accompanied with balanced diet and frequent exercise. When left unmitigated, an elevated blood pressure develops into hypertension. 

3. Hypertension Stage 1 

This stage is realized when blood pressure readings range from 130-139 mm Hg systolic and 80-89 mm Hg diastolic. Although having one reading higher while the other is normal does not qualify you as having high blood pressure. You can only be diagnosed as having hypertension when your average blood pressure remains elevated over an extended period. 

Such high blood pressure calls for immediate medical attention. Your doctor may even prescribe medication accompanied with lifestyle change ideas. People at the age of 65 years or older are prone to hypertension stage 1. This cluster of people is susceptible to numerous health issues, which make their blood pressure rise from time to time. Therefore, they are often advised to seek treatment once their systolic blood pressure raises above 130 mm Hg. 

4. Hypertension Stage 2 

Stage 2 hypertension is marked with readings ranging at 140/90 mmHg or more. When you hit these levels, your doctor may prescribe various drugs and recommended you change your lifestyle habits. Among the medications your physician may prescribe include beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, ACE inhibitors, and diuretics. All these remedies will complement your healthy lifestyle and in turn lower your blood pressure to normal levels. 

5. Hypertensive Crisis 

When your blood pressure goes beyond 180/120 mm Hg, you are in a dangerous zone. However, these readings may fluctuate, which means you have to measure at least twice to be sure. The second reading should be a confirmatory test after which you should consult your doctor immediately. A hypertensive crisis is characterized by shortness of breath, chest pain, back pain, change of vision, and difficulty in speaking. Such high blood pressure is risky and should not be taken lightly. 

Systolic and diastolic blood pressures are essential in determining the health standards of your heart and the entire body. The best blood pressure is 120/80 mm Hg. When reading your blood pressure, you should pay attention to the systolic readings. This is because when it rises beyond normal, it predisposes you to cardiovascular diseases. Systolic blood pressure increases as one gets older due to increased plaque build-up, the stiffness of the arteries, or vascular diseases. Be wary of such elevated readings. When the readings are higher, you can mitigate them with medication and lifestyle change prescribed by a qualified doctor.