Any measurement above this value needs doctor consultation.
What is systolic and diastolic blood pressure?
Blood pressure is often noted as:
- Systolic blood pressure (the highest reading): It denotes the amount of pressure the blood exerts against the artery walls as the heart beats. The upper value is the systolic value.
- Diastolic pressure (the lowest reading): It denotes the amount of pressure the blood exerts against the artery walls while the heart rests in between the beats. The lower value is the diastolic value.
Which blood pressure reading is more important?
The systolic pressure has been given major attention. In most people, the systolic pressure increases with age due to the hardening of the large arteries, the buildup of plaque, and an increased risk of heart and blood vessel diseases. The risk of death from a heart attack and stroke doubles with every 20 mm Hg systolic or 10 mm Hg increase among people aged 40-89 years.
Why is blood pressure measured in mm Hg?
Millimeters of mercury abbreviates to mm Hg. Mercury was used in the first accurate pressure gauges and still is used as a standard unit of pressure in medicine.
What are the different blood pressure categories?
Blood pressure can be categorized into five different types:
Normal: Blood pressure upto 120/80 mm Hg is normal blood pressure.
Prehypertension: When blood pressure readings consistently range from 120 to 139 systolic and upto 80 mm Hg diastolic, it is known as prehypertensive. People with elevated blood pressure are at a risk of high blood pressure unless steps are taken to control it.
Hypertension stage I: In this condition, blood pressure readings consistently range from 140 to 159 systolic or 90-99 mmHg diastolic. Doctors may prescribe lifestyle modifications such as cutting back on salt and stress along with blood pressure medication to reduce the risk of heart diseases and strokes.
Hypertension stage II: In this condition, blood pressure readings consistently range upto 160 mmHg systolic or higher. The diastolic value is up to 100 mmHg or higher. The doctors may prescribe a combination of two blood pressure medications and lifestyle changes.
Hypertensive crisis: This is the most critical condition and requires emergency medical attention. In this condition, the blood pressure suddenly exceeds 180/120 mmHg. Contact the physician immediately if you experience the following symptoms:
How to maintain normal blood pressure?
Lifestyle changes and regular exercises can help to maintain normal blood pressure. Some of the suggested lifestyle changes are as follows:
- Quit smoking
- Lose weight
- Avoid alcohol or at least limit the intake
- Eat a low-sodium, low-fat diet (the DASH diet)
- Eat foods rich in potassium, magnesium, and calcium such as bananas, papaya, and milk
- Regular monitoring of blood pressure after reaching the age of 35 years
- Practice meditation and other stress-relieving exercises
- Cut back on caffeine
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