Third Misconception About High Blood Pressure: It’s OK As Long As One Number Is Normal
You may notice that when your doctor measures your blood pressure, the reading includes two numbers, one written on top of the other. These numbers can be confusing. The top number is called your systolic blood pressure. This number represents the force of blood through your blood vessels during your heartbeat.
119 or below is normal systolic blood pressure
120-129 is considered elevated
130 and greater is high blood pressure
The bottom number is called your diastolic blood pressure. This number represents the force of blood through your blood vessels in between heartbeats, while your heart is resting.
79 or below is normal diastolic blood pressure
80 and greater is hypertension
Many people pay more attention to the systolic rate than the diastolic, but experts say that the heart can tolerate a high top (systolic) number better than a high bottom (diastolic) number. As you age, though, the systolic number tends to take on additional significance as the risk of heart attack and especially stroke increases.
Blood pressure does change throughout the day, depending on your activities. Blood pressure changes over time, as well. Systolic blood pressure tends to rise as you get older. Diastolic blood pressure may decrease as you get older.
If either of your blood pressure readings is consistently above normal, then you need to take action right away. You and your doctor can develop a plan to treat high blood pressure or even prehypertension before damage to your organs occurs.
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