What do the Numbers on Blood Pressure Monitors Mean?
We hear a lot about blood pressure numbers but what do they actually mean? What are the numbers telling us? What are the differences between the top and bottom numbers? Here’s a quick guide on blood pressure readings, a few preventative measures, and how to take accurate blood pressure readings.
Blood pressure is measured and expressed in a fraction. For example, 125/75 mm Hg. Other than obtaining a measurement from a blood pressure monitor, have you ever wondered what they represent? The top (systolic) number measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart muscles are contracting; the bottom (diastolic) number measures the pressure in the arteries when your heart rests between beats.
Here is a blood pressure chart guideline from the American Heart Association.
Please note that normal blood pressure levels differ from person to person as it is dependent on a person's age, height and weight. To ensure that your blood pressure is normal for you, do consult a physician. The above chart is just a general guideline
Here are a few tips to prevent and help decrease high blood pressure.
- Exercise regularly
- At least 30 minutes every day is recommended to keep a healthy and active lifestyle.
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Maintaining a healthy weight in relation to your height is helpful to keep blood pressure issues away.
- Decrease sodium intake
- Sodium, also known as salt, is found in almost all our foods especially processed ones. Limit the consumption of processed foods and do not add too much salt in your food.
- Reduce caffeine intake
- Caffeine is a pick-me-up but caffeine can also cause a dramatic increase in blood pressure even if you do not have high blood pressure.
- Reduce alcohol intake
- Similarly to caffeine, alcohol can raise blood pressure to unhealthy levels. Enjoying a glass of wine once a week is usually fine but binge drinking or drinking frequently (more than three drinks in one sitting or drinking several days a week) will not be doing any favors to your heart health.
- Manage stress
- Stress narrows your blood vessels and it can have detrimental effects on our heart and blood pressure in the long run. Take up a hobby or find activities that will help manage the stress of our urban lifestyle.
- Quit smoking
- Smoking is harmful to heart health, hence quitting is a wise and healthy choice to make.
Now that we have covered the meaning of blood pressure numbers and preventative measures, the following is an illustration on how to take your blood pressure reading properly. After all, there is no use of measuring your blood pressure if you are not doing it correctly.
If you are interested in learning more about blood pressure, click here to read our article specifically on the importance of monitoring blood pressure regularly.