Knowing the Numbers behind HBP

By Mindy Longhurst

Last fall, the American Heart Association guidelines for high blood pressure were altered. The guidelines changed from 140/90 mmHg to 130/80 mmHg. With these new standards, it is estimated that almost half of all adult Americans have high blood pressure.

A blood pressure reading has two different blood pressure numbers called systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

Systolic blood pressure

The systolic blood pressure is the top number of a blood pressure reading. The systolic blood pressure measures how hard your blood is exerting force against your artery walls while the heart is beating. The normal systolic blood pressure reading is 120 mmHg or below.

Diastolic blood pressure

The diastolic blood pressure is the bottom number of a blood pressure reading. The diastolic blood pressure measures how hard your blood is exerting force against your artery walls in between heartbeats. The normal level is 80 mmHg or below.

There are four different categories of blood pressure. These categories are normal, elevated, hypertension stage 1 and hypertension stage 2.

Normal

The normal blood pressure reading is 120/80 mmHg or below. At this phase, the patient is recommended to stay healthy to keep the blood pressure reading normal.

Elevated

The next level of blood pressure is called Elevated. This level is when the blood pressure is consistently 120-129/less than 80 mmHg. At this phase, the patient is at risk for getting high blood pressure. The patient is recommended to do things like exercise and eat right to help maintain and lower the increasing blood pressure.

Hypertension Stage 1

Hypertension Stage 1 is the first level of high blood pressure. Hypertension Stage 1 is when the blood pressure is consistently 130-139/80-89 mmHg. At this phase, the patient is recommended to make lifestyle changes and sometimes is prescribed high blood pressure medication to help regulate the blood pressure.

Hypertension Stage 2

Hypertension Stage 2 is the second level of high blood pressure. Hypertension Stage 2 is when the blood pressure is consistently 140/90 mmHg. At this phase, the patient is recommended to make lifestyle changes and prescribed high blood pressure medication to help regulate the high blood pressure.

For more information, visit http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/KnowYourNumbers/Understanding-Blood-Pressure-Readings_UCM_301764_Article.jsp#.Wv7ihu4vyUk

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