If you’ve ever had your blood pressure checked, you may have heard the terms “systolic” and “diastolic” blood pressure. But what do these terms mean, and what is considered a normal blood pressure range?
What is Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure is the measure of the force of blood against the walls of your arteries as it is pumped by your heart. It is expressed as two numbers: systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Systolic blood pressure is the higher number and represents the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats (contracts). Diastolic blood pressure is the lower number and represents the pressure in your arteries when your heart is resting between beats.
For example, a blood pressure reading of 120/80 mmHg (millimeters of mercury) is expressed as “120 over 80.” The top number (systolic) represents the pressure when your heart is contracting and pumping blood. The bottom number (diastolic) represents the pressure when your heart is resting between beats.
What is Normal Blood Pressure
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), a normal blood pressure reading should be less than 120/80 mmHg. However, it is important to note that normal blood pressure can vary slightly from person to person and can also change throughout the day. Factors such as age, weight, and level of physical activity can all affect blood pressure.
High Blood Pressure
Blood pressure that is consistently higher than the normal range is known as high blood pressure, or hypertension. High blood pressure can increase your risk of serious health problems, such as heart attack, stroke, and kidney disease.
The AHA defines high blood pressure as a reading of 140/90 mmHg or higher. If your blood pressure is consistently in this range, it is important to take steps to lower it to reduce your risk of serious health problems.
Low Blood Pressure
On the other hand, blood pressure that is consistently lower than the normal range is known as low blood pressure, or hypotension. While low blood pressure is not usually a cause for concern, it can sometimes be a sign of an underlying health problem.
The AHA defines low blood pressure as a reading of 90/60 mmHg or lower. If you experience symptoms such as dizziness or fainting, it is important to speak with your healthcare provider to determine the cause.
How to Maintain Normal Blood Pressure
There are several lifestyle changes you can make to help maintain normal blood pressure. These include:
- Maintaining a healthy weight: Being overweight or obese can increase your risk of high blood pressure. Losing weight through diet and exercise can help lower your blood pressure.
- Eating a healthy diet: A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and low in salt, saturated fat, and added sugars can help lower your blood pressure.
- Getting regular physical activity: Engaging in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week can help lower your blood pressure.
- Limiting alcohol consumption: Drinking too much alcohol can increase your blood pressure. The AHA recommends no more than two drinks per day for men and no more than one drink per day for women.
- Managing stress: High levels of stress can raise your blood pressure. Finding healthy ways to manage stress, such as through exercise, meditation, or talking with a therapist, can help lower your blood pressure.
Maintaining normal blood pressure is important for overall health and well-being. By making lifestyle changes and working with your healthcare provider, you can help keep your blood pressure in the normal range. It is important to have your blood pressure checked regularly, as high or low blood pressure may not always have noticeable symptoms. If your blood pressure is outside of the normal range, your healthcare provider can help develop a plan to bring it back to a healthy level.
By following a healthy lifestyle, you can take an active role in maintaining normal blood pressure and reducing your risk of serious health problems. Don’t forget to check your blood pressure regularly, and talk to your healthcare provider about any concerns or questions you may have.