Story by: Sara Thompson on February 17, 2022
Blood pressure is a key measure of your health. You probably know it’s important, but do you know what a good blood pressure is? Do you know why it’s important? Read on for the answers to these questions and more.
Two numbers make up your blood pressure reading: systolic blood pressure (the top number) and diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number).
Systolic blood pressure shows how much pressure your blood is pushing against the walls of your arteries during heartbeats. The diastolic reading shows how much pressure your blood is pushing against the walls of your arteries while the heart rests between beats.
Many refer to high blood pressure as the “silent killer” because it usually has no symptoms. If left untreated, it can lead to several life-threatening conditions:
While there are “normal” ranges for blood pressure, each person is as unique as their reading.
“We know that a variety of factors can contribute to a variance in blood pressure numbers. What may be considered ‘normal’ or in a good range for one person may be high or elevated for another,” said Candace Combs, APRN. “One thing is for certain: We want to see most everyone’s blood pressure below 130/80. Anything over this figure, regardless of the reason, needs to be evaluated by a provider.”
To determine the blood pressure range that is best for you, be sure to speak to your primary care provider or cardiovascular specialist.
What the numbers mean
Knowing your blood pressure numbers can help you and your provider work together to keep you healthy.
(hypertension stage 1)
(hypertension stage 2)
(Go to your provider immediately.)
Normal: Blood pressure is within the normal range. Continue working with your provider to stay within this range.
Elevated: When your readings are consistently in the elevated range, you are at risk for high blood pressure. If you’re in this range, you are likely to develop hypertension if steps are not taken to control it
Our specialists treat more people for heart and vascular care — about 250,000 every year — than any other provider in Louisville and Southern Indiana.
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Hypertension stage 1: In stage 1, your provider likely will prescribe lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, following a healthy heart diet, getting more exercise, losing weight, and more, based on your health history. Your provider may also prescribe a blood pressure medication based on your individual risk for heart disease and stroke.
Hypertension stage 2: In this stage, your provider likely will prescribe a combination of blood pressure medications and lifestyle changes.
Hypertensive crisis: If your blood pressure readings are suddenly higher than 180/120 mmHg, wait five minutes and then test again. If your reading is still high, call your doctor.
If you have any of these signs of hypertensive emergency and your blood pressure is in the crisis range, call 911:
When blood pressure is in the hypertensive crisis range, it can have severe outcomes:
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