What Do Blood Pressure Numbers Mean?

Your blood pressure (BP) helps determine the health of your heart. Knowing what your blood pressure levels mean will help you take the best course of action for your heart. If you have a loved one who needs consistent BP monitoring, understanding these blood pressure numbers will help you better care for him or her.


Differentiating Between Systolic and Diastolic Pressure


Your blood pressure consists of two numbers, the systolic (top number) and diastolic (bottom number). These figures indicate how high or low your BP is.

The systolic number refers to the pressure exerted by your blood against your artery walls when your heart is beating. The diastolic number refers to the blood pressure while your heart is at rest in between heart beats.

Doctors and caregivers pay closer attention to the systolic result because this can be a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, especially for older people. Most people over 50 experience a steady increase in systolic blood pressure due to the stiffness of arteries and a buildup of plaque.

Understanding the Blood Pressure Chart


The American Heart Association has a blood pressure chart that shows the range from normal BP to hypertensive crisis.

+ Normal: less than 120 systolic, less than 80 diastolic

+ Prehypertension: 120-139 systolic, 80-89 diastolic

+ Hypertension Stage 1 (High Blood Pressure): 140-159 systolic, 90-99 diastolic

+ Hypertension Stage 2 (High Blood Pressure): 160 or higher systolic, 100 or higher diastolic

+ Hypertensive Crisis (Immediate emergency care): higher than 180 systolic, higher than 110 diastolic

Being in the healthy blood pressure range is the most optimal for your heart. If you’re veering toward prehypertension, you can still prevent it from crossing over to high BP with adjustments to your lifestyle.

For hypertension stages one and two, some doctors might prescribe medicines for blood pressure, but it’s possible to control your blood pressure without them. Adopting a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet and regular exercise is a step you can take to lower your blood pressure. From your diet to daily routines, all of your habits should be geared toward controlling your BP.

Hypertensive crisis is a sudden spike in blood pressure at 180/110 or higher. It requires immediate medical attention. If you get this reading, wait five minutes and try again. If you get the same results, call 911 or have someone bring you to the nearest hospital.

How to Maintain a Normal Blood Pressure Range


Keeping your blood pressure at a normal level is vital to the longevity of your heart. There are many ways to control hypertension. Here are some things you can start doing today:  


+ Exercise regularly

+ Eat a well-balanced diet

+ Decrease sodium and processed food intake

+ Watch your weight and shed some pounds if needed

+ Limit alcohol and caffeine intake

+ Stop smoking

+ Reduce stress as much as you can

+ Consider holistic and natural treatments


Having high blood pressure shouldn’t stop you from your day-to-day activities. It is a condition that can be managed and can even usher in a healthier lifestyle. Knowing the basics about blood pressure and blood pressure numbers can help you be more proactive in caring for your heart. Monitor your BP regularly. Your heart will thank you.