Blood Pressure Readings:

What They Mean?

Blood Pressure Readings: Why Are There Two?

We have two blood pressure readings because blood pressure is not a constant measurement. We describe the way our blood flows as abloodstream. But in reality our blood does not move in a steady stream. It pulsates. 

When your heart contracts it sends a surge of pressure to push the blood along. At this point your blood pressure is at its highest. This is yoursystolic pressure

Between each contraction your heart rests and fills with blood preparing for the next contraction. While your heart is filling your blood pressure is at its lowest. This lower reading is your diastolic pressure

Therefore a blood pressure reading of 120 over 80 means your pressure at its highest point (systolic) is 120 mmHg (millimeters of mercury) and at its lowest point (diastolic) is 80 mmHg. (1 mmHg is equivalent to the pressure required to support a column of mercury 1 millimeter high.)

What Do Blood Pressure Readings Mean?

Blood pressure increases as the vascular system resists blood flow. Any number of causes can affect blood pressure. Arteries can become clogged by the buildup of atherosclerosis leading to coronary heart disease. Resistance can build because of too much salt or even kidney failure. There are many other possible causes of high blood pressure

Long-term high blood pressure does great damage to the heart and cardiovascular system. It can lead to increased risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, or congestive heart failure.

Therefore if your blood pressure readings are high you need to take action to get your blood pressure down.

There are blood pressure medications your doctor can prescribe. There are also natural ways to reduce blood pressure. But whatever it takes keep your blood pressure as close to normal as possible. 

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Your blood pressure readings indicate what actions you should take. The table below provides a brief explanation of what you should do.


Actions to Take
Below 120 Below 80 Normal Pressure Maintain a heart healthy lifestyle.
120-139 80-90 Pre- hypertension Maintain a heart healthy lifestyle.
140-159 90-99 Stage 1 Hypertension Maintain a heart healthy lifestyle. In 6 months take medications if your BP is still high.
Above 159 Above 99 Stage 2 Hypertension Maintain a heart healthy lifestyle. Increase medications.

The suggestions above assume no other heart health issues. However, if you have other heart disease risk factors your doctor will want to be more aggressive in lowering your blood pressure. 

Don’t neglect what you can do to lower your own blood pressure. For many of us lifestyle changes can significantly affect blood pressure. 

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