When people talk about "measuring blood pressure," they mean they want to check two numbers that represent the force of the blood that the heart pumps through the body.
These two numbers are called systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure. They are measured using a cuff with a pressure gauge attached, so the numbers can be read by a machine or by a person listening for pressure to rise and fall through a stethoscope.
Both numbers are important, but not always for the same reasons. This article looks at how blood pressure is measured, what levels are normal, and what some of the results might mean.
Blood pressure summary
When the heart beats, blood passes through the arteries and travels throughout the body. It is not a constant flow that can be seen from a garden hose or faucet.
The pulse of blood flow and the pressure it exerts vary from moment to moment. It is highest during heartbeats (this is systolic pressure) and lowest between beats (diastolic). The blood pressure reading includes both measurements.
Doctors measure blood pressure in these numbers, so there is a standard way to describe the force of pulsating blood. The systolic and diastolic pressures are important.
If the reading is too high, it could mean that the person has high blood pressure. If the reading is too low, there may be insufficient blood flow to the brain and other important organs. If there is a change in the difference between the two numbers, this is a sign that it could be heart disease or another problem.
Blood pressure readings
- Your blood pressure is recorded in this format: 120/80.
- They say it like this: "120 to 80".
- The systolic blood pressure reading is the largest number.
- The diastolic blood pressure reading is the lowest number.
- Units of measurement are millimeters of mercury (mm Hg).
What is systolic blood pressure?
During a heartbeat, the heart pushes blood into the arteries. Doctors call this "systole," which is why it is called systolic blood pressure. These are the pressure during the heartbeat and the maximum measured blood pressure.
When the reading is 120 mmHg. Art. Or slightly lower when the person is sitting quietly at rest, the systolic blood pressure is considered normal.
High systolic blood pressure
The heart muscle pushes the blood to a higher pressure when a person is exercising , under stress, or at a similar time when the heart rate is increasing. At the same time, the systolic pressure increases.
In these cases, high blood pressure is normal. However, high blood pressure is considered high when a person is resting.
This is why measuring blood pressure during quiet rest periods is so important to diagnose hypertension or high blood pressure.
High systolic blood pressure is usually caused by narrowing of the arteries, which makes the heart work harder to push blood.
Low systolic blood pressure
If the systolic blood pressure is below normal, it is called hypotension. If this low blood pressure is severe enough, it can cause lightheadedness , dizziness , or fainting . If it lasts long enough and is not treated, it can cause organs like the kidneys to shut down.
Systolic hypotension can occur if the amount of blood in your body is too low. This can happen if you are very dehydrated or bleeding a lot; there is simply not enough blood to push the body.
It can also occur if the heart muscle is too weak to push blood normally, as in cardiomyopathy (damage to the heart muscle), or if the arteries dilate too suddenly, as in vasovagal syncope (a fainting reflex).
Sometimes this low blood pressure occurs when you suddenly change your posture. You may feel dizzy when you stand up because gravity draws the blood to your legs. This is a common condition called orthostatic hypotension .
Your systolic blood pressure is the highest and first number in your blood pressure reading. If it is too high at rest, you may need treatment. But too low blood pressure can also be a serious problem, so be sure to discuss your situation with your doctor.
What is diastolic blood pressure?
The heart rests between beats to fill with blood. Doctors call this pause between beats diastole. Your diastolic blood pressure is measured during this pause before the next heartbeat.
Normal diastolic blood pressure during quiet rest is 80 mmHg. Art. Or a little lower. If you have high blood pressure, your diastolic number is usually higher even during quiet rest.
Low diastolic blood pressure can occur with dehydration. or if you have severe bleeding. It can also happen if the arteries relax and dilate.
Your systolic and diastolic pressures, the highest and lowest points in your heartbeat, will vary based on your level of activity, stress, fluid intake, and other factors. This means that when measuring blood pressure, it is best to limit the influence of these other factors on your blood pressure.
For a more accurate reading, it should be filmed in a quiet and warm place after a quiet break of at least five minutes. You should be relaxed with your arms at your sides, and the cuff should be placed on your arm at approximately heart level. Your legs should not be crossed and your bladder should be empty; both can affect your reading.
Measuring blood pressure this way is challenging in a busy doctor's office and makes checking high blood pressure difficult. Many experts suggest recording blood pressure for an extended period of time, such as repeating measurements at home, before diagnosing high blood pressure.
Blood pressure is a measure of the pressure in the arteries during the heartbeat (systolic) and between beats (diastolic). These values are important for the diagnosis and treatment of high blood pressure.
These are also important numbers to know to treat a number of conditions, including heart disease or severe blood loss. It is very important to get accurate readings in a quiet and peaceful environment.