Blood Pressure

What do Blood Pressure Numbers Mean?

You must have often heard the terms blood pressure, high blood pressure, low blood pressure, hypertension, hypotension, etc. You must have also heard the doctor advising people to maintain a normal blood pressure. Doctors also warn you to reduce stress in order to treat and prevent hypertension. So, what exactly does all this mean? What exactly is blood pressure? Blood pressure (BP), in the simplest terms, can be defined as the pressure exerted by blood on blood vessel walls. It is measured by a device known as the sphygmomanometer and is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg).

Blood Pressure

As mentioned above, blood pressure reading comprises two numbers, systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure. Among the two, the greater number (top) is the systolic blood pressure while the smaller number (bottom) is the diastolic blood pressure. Systolic blood pressure is defined as the pressure of blood in the arteries when the heart muscles contract. On the other hand, diastolic blood pressure is defined as the pressure on the arteries when the heart muscles relax. Normal blood pressure level is 120/80 mmHg. This is the sign of having a healthy blood pressure and the person is under no threat of suffering from any blood pressure related health conditions. Several factors like the person’s age, diet, lifestyle, genetics, etc., contribute in rising or lowering a person’s blood pressure. When there is a drastic rise or a fall in the blood pressure, a person suffers from hypotension (low blood pressure) and hypertension (high blood pressure).

Blood Pressure Levels and Meanings

The following table will help you understand what is low blood pressure (hypotension), high blood pressure (hypertension), and the different stages of hypertension.

Blood Pressure Systolic Blood Pressure Diastolic Blood Pressure
Low Blood Pressure Less than 100 mmHg Less than 60 mmHg
Normal 120 mmHg 80 mmHg
Pre-hypertension 120-140 mmHg 80-90 mmHg
Hypertension Stage 1 140-160 mmHg 90-100 mmHg and higher
Hypertension Stage 2 Higher than 160 mmHg Higher than 100 mmHg

Extreme low blood pressure results in insufficient supply of blood to the heart which can also result in a heart attack. Also, extreme low blood pressure can damage the kidneys permanently. There are medications available that help in treating low blood pressure and its symptoms.

On the other hand, in case of pre-hypertension or hypertension stage 1, the person is on the verge of suffering from health problems caused by high blood pressure. In case of hypertension stage 2, the person is at the highest risk of suffering from congestive heart failure and heart attack. Extreme high blood pressure also leads to complications in the brain, stroke, kidney diseases, or even kidney failure. Therefore, it is essential to lower high blood pressure as early as possible. There are several effective ways like losing weight, having a balanced diet, making changes in lifestyle, reducing stress, etc. The doctor may even prescribe medications for the same.

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