Know Your Numbers

  • By Premier Family Medical
  • 12 Dec, 2016

Understanding your blood pressure numbers

One of the first things that is checked when you enter into a physician's office is your blood pressure. However, we often take the nurse’s word for what the numbers mean. It would be better if you were to understand these numbers yourself and were able to determine more about the state of your health.

Blood pressure is recorded as two numbers written in the form of a fraction. It is measured using mm Hg (millimeters of Mercury). An example of a blood pressure reading is 125/82 mm Hg.

The upper part of the fraction is known as the Systolic blood pressure which is the pressure blood exerts on your arterial walls when your heart is beating. The lower part is termed the Diastolic blood pressure . This is the pressure against your arteries when your heart is between beats. The lower part of the fraction is usually numerically smaller than the upper part. The upper part of the fraction is of more importance because it is a better determinant for heart disorders. Systolic blood pressure increases slowly with age. Therefore, a sudden spike is a red flag and proves high blood pressure. However, a sudden spike in either the diastolic or systolic pressures signals increased blood pressure.

According to the AHA (American Heart Association), blood pressures can be divided into five categories i.e.
Systolic vs Diastolic

Normal Range Blood Pressure

Any reading that is below 120/80 mm Hg is considered to be normal pressure. Such a reading is indicative of someone who eats healthy food and whose physical activity levels are acceptable.


Also called the early stage of high blood pressure. The blood pressure readings are 120-139 in Systolic blood pressure and 80-89 in Diastolic blood pressure. Action to lead a patient back to normal blood pressure should start at this stage.

Hypertension Stage 1

The blood pressure range at this stage is 140-159/90-99 mm Hg. This is the first stage of high blood pressure. Lifestyle changes and medicine will be prescribed.

Hypertension Stage 2

At blood pressure levels above 160/100 mm Hg, doctors will prescribe heavier doses of medication and more drastic lifestyle alterations.

Hypertensive Crisis

At this stage, blood pressure is higher than 180/110 mm Hg. Immediate medical care will be needed to bring down the blood pressure. Physical symptoms might not have presented themselves at this stage but if the reading is consistent twice, visit the ER.

Dangers of High Blood Pressure

You need to have a qualified nurse or doctor check your blood pressure and if the numbers are, as shown above, you are at risk of contracting many illnesses.

The most dangerous effect of high blood pressure is to your cardiovascular system. There will be extensive damage to your heart and arteries which may lead to a heart attack, arteriosclerosis, congestive heart failure or heart diseases.
You are also at risk of suffering from a stroke if you have high blood pressure. Other diseases which HBP may lead to are vision loss, kidney failure, memory loss, peripheral artery disease, erectile dysfunction, angina, and memory loss.

High Blood Pressure is a disease that has no symptoms. However, leaving HBP untreated is what leads to more serious diseases. The risk of contracting these other diseases is dependent on many other factors. The quicker you resolve the issue, the better for you because it will reduce the danger of being affected by the dangers of HBP.

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