How to Read and Understand Blood Pressure Readings

What do the digits signify?

All expect to lead a hale and fit life. What does it signify?

A physician measures your blood pressure; it is expressed with the help of two numbers. One of the numbers on top is systolic and the bottom one is diastolic. Take an example 120/80 mm Hg.

The top number means the total pressure you have in your arteries at the contraction of your heart. It is systolic pressure.

The diastolic pressure refers to your pressure while the heart muscle is between the beats. Both these numbers indicate the state of your health. 

If the number is above the ideal range then it indicates that your heart is functioning too much to pump blood to the rest of the body.

What is meaning by a normal reading?

The normal reading is when your blood pressure needs to exhibit a top number(systolic) that is between 90 and 120 and a bottom number(diastolic) is between 60 and less than 80. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the ideal range indicates when both the top and low numbers remain in these numbers.

Blood pressure readings are taken in millimeters of mercury. The abbreviated form is mmHg. Ideal blood pressure refers to any blood pressure that is below 120/80 mm Hg and above 90/60 mm Hg above in an adult. 

No medical intervention is required if you are in the normal range. Always maintain a fit lifestyle and weight to avoid hypertension. Be very careful if your family has a history of hypertension. Healthy eating habits and exercise are conducive to beat such condition.

Elevated blood pressure

It is a signal of a red flag to follow heart-healthy habits if the reading is higher than 120/80 mm Hg. In such a situation, you should maintain a few steps to avoid a further rise in your blood pressure. 

If your diastolic pressure is less than 80 mm Hg and systolic pressure is between 120 and 129, it signifies you are suffering from elevated blood pressure.

Although these numbers not the technical signs of high blood pressure, you are not out of the normal range. But elevated blood pressure can move you to actual high blood pressure that puts you at an increased risk of stroke and heart disease.

You should follow an improved lifestyle choice and do not need any elevated blood pressure. To prevent elevated blood pressure into total hypertension, you need to follow a balanced diet and regular exercise that are fruitful to beat increased blood pressure.

Hypertension: Stage 1

If you have blood pressure if your systolic blood pressure arrives between 130 and 139 mmHg. If your diastolic blood pressure is between 80 and 89 mm Hg. It is called stage 1 hypertension.

However, the AHA mentions that if you get only one reading this high, you will not have high blood pressure. The average of the number o9ver a period is the determination of hypertension.

The doctor will measure and monitor whether your blood pressure is too high or not. You may depend on medications if your blood pressure does not improve after following a healthy diet, a healthy lifestyle particularly when you are at a risk for heart disease. When there is less risk of getting a heart attack, your doctor will instruct you to follow up in three or six months after taking up fit habits.

If you bare reaching 65 years old or more, you need to undergo treatment and lifestyle changes if your systolic blood pressure is higher than 130 mm Hg. The treatment for 64 years old and older with heart ailments is different. To reduce memory-related problems and dementia, high blood pressure treatment is necessary. 

Hypertension: Stage 2

It is an even worse condition if a person is in Stage 2 high blood pressure. When your top blood pressure reading is 140 or more and a bottom number is 90 or more, it is referred to as stage 2 hypertension.

At this stage, your doctor will prescribe one or more medications to keep your blood pressure under control. But medicines are not enough to beat hypertension. Improved lifestyle habits and exercise are also necessary for this stage just like in another stage.

Here are some medications that balance a fit lifestyle include

For relaxing arteries, alpha-blockers are used.

ACE inhibitors impede elements that shrink blood vessels.

Diuretics decrease the amount of fluid in the blood vessels of your body.

Calcium channel blockers reduce the function of the heart and relax blood vessel

Beta-blockers are important to reduce the work of the heart.


Risk zone

If anyone’s blood pressure reading is above 180/120 mm Hg that shows serious health issues. The AHA indicates the high measures as a “hypertensive crisis”. This stage requires exigent treatment even if you are without any symptoms. 

Also seek medical assistance immediately, if you have this increased blood pressure range that can accompany symptoms like:

  • Giddiness
  • Headache
  • Pain in chest
  • Breathing troubles
  • Symptoms of stroke, like paralysis or loss of muscle control
  • Visual change
  • Urine with blood

Sometimes there is temporarily occurring of a high reading and then it comes back to the normal reading. In such a situation, doctors will take a second reading after a few minutes. If there is second high reading, it indicates that you require treatment immediately on whether or not to have any symptoms mentioned above.


Precautionary measures

Even you are having healthy numbers, you need to follow preventive measures. It will help to minimize the risk of developing hypertension, stroke, heart disease.

Depending upon your age, preventive measures are more significant.  Once you reach 50 or above, the systolic pressure can creep. It is more important Trust Sources in foretelling the danger of coronary heart ailments and other issues. Certain health ailments such as kidney, diabetes play a vital role. Take the doctor’s advice on how to manage your complete health to prevent the attack of hypertension. 

There are some preventive measures to lower or avoid high blood pressure. 

The decrease in sodium intake

Cut down your sodium intake. Some people are vulnerable to the effects of sodium. Such individuals should not take more than 2,300 mg per day. Adults with hypertension should reduce the sodium intake of to1,500 mg per day. 

To reduce sodium intake, do not add salt to your food as adding salt to your diet will increase your total sodium intake. Limit processed foods as these foods have less nutritional value while these are rich in fat and sodium.  Try to avoid such foods to avoid high blood pressure. 

Restricting caffeine intake

You should cut down your caffeine intake. Consult your doctor to see if caffeine sensitivity affects your blood pressure readings.

Regular exercising

Exercise more often. Constance is integral in maintaining a fit blood pressure reading. Try to spend 30 minutes every day in exercising rather than spending a few hours on weekends. Follow a gentle yoga routine to minimize your blood pressure. 

Sustaining a healthy weight

If you are putting on more weight, then maintain it. Try to lose weight if required. If you are over-weight, shedding even 5 to 10 pounds impacts on your blood pressure reading.  

Regulating stress

Stress also enhances blood pressure reading. Moderate exercise, 10-minute meditation sessions, even yoga are helpful. If you want to avoid the doctor, then reduce the stress levels.

Quitting smoking and reducing alcohol intake

To keep your blood pressure level under control, quit smoking. Smoking is injurious to your heart health. Also, reduce your alcohol intake. The more you remain from these habits, the more you can avoid blood pressure.

Low blood pressure

Hypotension is a situation when it is low blood pressure. In adults, the blood pressure reading of 90/60 mm Hg or below is named as hypotension. This situation is injurious as when blood pressure is too low there is less oxygen supply to your body and heart. 

Some possible causes of such situation include

  • Pregnancy
  • Loss of blood
  • Heart ailments
  • Severe infection
  • Certain medicines
  • Lack of nutrition
  • Dehydration
  • Anaphylaxis
  • Endocrine issues

Hypotension generally includes symptoms like dizziness or wooziness. Consult your doctor to determine other factors that can cause low blood pressure and how to increase it.


To prevent complications like stroke, heart disease it is vital to keep your blood pressure in the normal range. A healthy lifestyle and medications together assist lower blood pressure. If you are over-weight, shedding weight is imperative to keep your numbers down.

But also keep in mind that only a single blood pressure reading indicates the condition of your health. The important thing is that taking an average of blood pressure for over time is the most correct. So, it is always advisable to take a reading of your blood pressure by a healthcare service provider or an expert at least once a year. You should take frequent checks if you are prone to have high readings.