Blood Pressure: What the Numbers Mean
The body relies on blood pressure to force blood through the circulatory system. If blood pressure reaches higher or lower numbers than normal, oxygen and nutrients aren’t delivered properly to the tissues and organs and eventually can negatively affect your heart, kidneys, or vision. High blood pressure can be considered a “silent killer” because there are rarely any symptoms. That’s why it’s so important to get your blood pressure tested regularly and making lifestyle changes if necessary.
Why Regulating Your Blood Pressure is Important
High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure occurs when the force of your blood pushing through your blood vessels is too high. Eventually, that intense pressure starts to damage the arteries and LDL cholesterol is able to find its way into its walls. If the pressure continues and significant damage is done, blood pressure can increase further and lead to a heart attack or stroke.
Low Blood Pressure
Low blood pressure is typically a sign that something else is going on within the body. Some people don’t experience any noticeable symptoms, while others may feel dizzy or faint. Dehydration, long-term bed rest, pregnancy, certain medical conditions and standing for long periods of time are a few reasons blood pressure can decrease.
How Blood Pressure is Measured
Medical professionals use a pressure cuff to measure your blood pressure by briefly compressing the brachial artery to stop blood flow. As air is released from the cuff, the professional listens with a stethoscope for two things: systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure.
The higher number is the systolic pressure and is caused when the heart contracts. The lower number is the diastolic number; it represents the lower pressure in the arteries during the brief period between heartbeats.
What the Numbers Mean
- Normal blood pressure: Anything less than 120/80 mm Hg but higher than 90/60 mm Hg. If a person receives this reading, they only need to be screened during their yearly doctor’s visit.
- Elevated blood pressure: 120 to 129 of systolic and less than 80 mm Hg diastolic. If lifestyle changes aren’t started after receiving this reading, elevated blood pressure can develop into high blood pressure.
- Hypertension: The most recent guidelines from the American Heart Association advise doctors only prescribe medication if a person has previously experienced a heart attack or stroke, or if they are at a certain age, diagnosed with diabetes, or experiencing chronic kidney disease. Otherwise, doctors will typically recommend lifestyle changes during early stages of hypertension.
- Stage 1: 130 to 139 systolic or 80 to 89 mm Hg diastolic.
- Stage 2: 140/90 mm Hg or more.
- Hypertensive Crisis: Anything higher than 180/120 mm Hg is considered hypertensive crisis and requires immediate medical attention
- Low Blood Pressure: Lower than 90/60 mm Hg. Most healthcare providers are only concerned if low blood pressure causes symptoms. However, if you’re experiencing low blood pressure often, Mayo Clinic suggests keeping a record of your symptoms, when they occur and what you're doing at the time.
Tips to Support Normal Blood Pressure
There are a variety of easy lifestyle changes you can make to both prevent and treat abnormal blood pressure.
- Body Weight: Maintain a healthy weight; talk to your doctor about what they recommend.
- Diet: Eat a balanced diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in sodium.
- Exercise: Spend at least 30 minutes exercising most days of the week, if possible. Low-impact exercises like walking, cycling, and swimming are all great options.
- Decrease stress.
- Limit alcohol intake.
- Don’t Smoke.
- Utilize HyperBalance: Formulated with prunella vulgaris, rauwolfia, eucommia, Gou Teng, gastrodia, and apocynum, HyperBalance uses traditional herbs to support the modern-day lifestyle. Each ingredient was specifically chosen to help support normal blood pressure and circulation.
- MacGill, Markus. “What is a Normal Blood Pressure Reading?” Medical News Today. 2022.
- American Heart Association. “What is High Blood Pressure?”
- Mayo Clinic Staff. “Low Blood Pressure.” Mayo Clinic.