In this article, we will discuss what blood pressure is, how it is calculated, and why BP is important. We will also discuss what constitutes high BP and how to know if you have high BP. Read to learn how you can manage your health better!
What is blood pressure?
Blood pressure is a measure of the force exerted by blood on the arterial walls. For most people, it can fluctuate from day to day and affect a person’s overall risk for heart disease and stroke.
This article will cover four basic but important factors that you should consider when considering your BP numbers.
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How do you calculate blood pressure?
We calculate blood pressure using the formula of systolic pressure (the top number) minus diastolic pressure (the bottom number).
- When the heart beats, Systolic BP measures the pressure in your arteries.
- And, when your heart rests between beats, diastolic BP measures the pressure in your arteries.
If your BP readings are systolic 120 and diastolic 80, you can write it as 120/80 mmHg.
Importance of blood pressure
If there is no pressure that forces our blood through our arteries to flow in the circulatory system, organs and tissues will not get nutrients or oxygen.
BP may become low, and it can also become dangerously high.
Now we know that- BP is the force that moves blood through our circulatory system.
Blood pressure is an essential force because-
- It pushes nutrients and oxygen to nourish organs and tissues,
- delivers hormones like insulin,
- antibodies, and white blood cells for immunity.
- It provides the fresh blood that picks up the toxic waste products of metabolism, such as the toxins cleared through kidneys and liver. Also, the carbon dioxide we exhale.
- It also carries the clotting platelets that prevent blood loss in any injury. It defenses the tissue damage.
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What Is normal blood pressure?
To maintain a healthy life, having normal BP is essential.
Normal blood pressure is below 120/80. We discussed it in more detail below.
Blood pressure categories
There are five blood pressure categories that American Heart Association recognizes. Those are:
BP is considered normal if your reading is less than 120/80 mm Hg. If your results fall into this category, continue with heart-healthy habits such as getting regular exercise and following a balanced diet.
If your continuous readings are from 120-129 systolic and less than 80 mm Hg diastolic, we call it Elevated BP. People with elevated BP may develop high BP if necessary steps are not taken to control the condition.
3. Hypertension Stage 1
When BP consistently ranges from 130-139 systolic or 80-89 mm Hg diastolic, we call it Hypertension Stage 1. At this stage of high BP, doctors may ask for lifestyle changes and consider adding BP medication based on your risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases (ASCVD), such as heart attack or stroke.
4. Hypertension Stage 2
When blood pressure consistently ranges at 140/90 mm Hg or higher, we call it Hypertension Stage 2. At this stage of high BP, doctors may prescribe a combination of lifestyle changes and BP medications.
5. Hypertensive crisis
If your BP readings suddenly increase to 180/120 mm Hg, wait five minutes and test your BP again. If your readings are still high, contact your doctor immediately. This stage of high BP requires medical attention. You may be suffering from a hypertensive crisis.
If your BP is higher than 180/120 mm Hg and you are experiencing signs of possible organ damage such as chest pain, difficulty in speaking, shortness of breath, back pain, numbness, or vision change, do not wait to see if your pressure comes down on its own. Call for medical aid.
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Blood Pressure Chart
Here is a blood pressure chart that can help you know if your BP is at a healthy level or you need to take some care to improve your number.
|Blood Pressure Category||Systolic mm Hg (upper number)||Diastolic mm Hg (lower number)|
|Normal||Less than 120||Less than 80|
|Elevated||120-129||less than 80|
|High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) Stage 1||130-139||80-89|
|High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) Stage 2||140 or higher||90 or higher|
|Hypertensive crisis (Consult your doctor immediately)||Higher than 180||Higher than 120|
Note: You should confirm your BP with a medical professional.
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Which number is more important?
There is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease for people over 50. So, more attention is given to systolic blood pressure. But unfortunately, most people’s systolic BP rises steadily with age due to an increased incidence of cardiac and vascular disease, the increasing stiffness of large arteries, and the long-term plaque buildup.
According to recent studies, the risk of death from stroke and ischemic heart disease doubles with every 20 mm Hg systolic or 10 mm Hg diastolic. The increase is among people from age 40 to 89. So doctors may use an elevated systolic or an elevated diastolic BP reading to make a diagnosis of high BP.
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Why it is measured in mm Hg
The abbreviation mm Hg means millimeters of mercury. Mercury was used in the first accurate pressure gauges and is still used in medicine today as the standard unit of measurement for pressure.
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