We’ve all heard of it. Maybe we have it ourselves or we know someone who has it. Or maybe you or someone you know is currently battling it; fighting each day to keep it under control: High blood pressure. But how well do you understand it? When your nurse or doctor reads you your blood pressure, do you know what it means? Or are you like the average person who knows that the lower the number is the better?
Let’s go over some of the basics. When a nurse or doctor tells you your blood pressure rating, they may say something along the lines of “blood pressure 110/70 (110 over 70),” to let you know where your blood pressure lies. Blood pressure is not measured in pounds, but in millimeters of mercury (mm HG). The first number, which is generally the higher number, is your systolic pressure. It measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats. The second number, which is generally the lower number, is your diastolic pressure. It measures the pressure in the arteries in between heartbeats. Typically more attention is given to the top number (the systolic blood pressure) as a major risk factor for heart disease for people over 50 years old.
According to the American Heart Association, a healthy blood pressure reading is less than 120/80. Pre-hypertension, or slightly elevated blood pressure, is between that and 139/89. Once you creep over those numbers, you are officially at high blood pressure. Believe it or not, low blood pressure can be a cause for concern as well. While most doctors only consider low blood pressure dangerous when symptoms are displayed, it can also have an underlying cause. Symptoms of low blood pressure include:
Dizziness or lightheadedness
Dehydration and unusual thirst
Lack of concentration
Cold, clammy, pale skin
Rapid, shallow breathing
Regular visits to your doctor or cardiologist is the best way to maintain your blood pressure. We can recommend the best treatment or course of action if your blood pressure is too high or too low.