What do your numbers mean? A guide to understanding your blood pressure readings

Everyone would like to have healthy, “normal” blood pressure. But what exactly does that mean? When your doctor takes your blood pressure, it’s expressed as a measurement with two numbers, with one number on top and one on the bottom, like a fraction. For example, 120/80.

The top number refers to the amount of pressure in your arteries during contraction of your heart muscle. This is called systolic pressure. The bottom number refers to your blood pressure when your heart muscle is between beats. This is called diastolic pressure. Both numbers are important in determining the state of your heart.

Higher numbers than the ideal range indicate that your heart is working too hard to pump blood to the rest of your body.

For a normal reading, your blood pressure needs to show a top number that’s between 90 and 120, and a bottom number that’s between 60 and 80. If you’re in the normal range, no medical intervention is needed. However, you should maintain a healthy lifestyle and a healthy weight to prevent hypertension from developing. Regular exercise and reduced salt intake can also help. You may need to be even more mindful of your lifestyle if hypertension runs in your family.

HypertensionDanger zone

A blood pressure reading above 180/110 mm Hg indicates a serious health problem. The AHA refers to these high measurements as a “hypertensive crisis.” Blood pressure in this range requires urgent treatment if there are no accompanying symptoms.

You should seek emergency treatment if you have blood pressure in this range along with symptoms such as:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Visual changes
  • Symptoms of stroke, such as paralysis or loss of muscle control in the face or an extremity
  • Blood in the urine
  • Dizziness
  • Headache

However, sometimes a high reading can occur and then your numbers will return to normal. If your blood pressure measures at this level, your doctor will likely take a second reading after a few minutes have passed. A second high reading indicates that you’ll need treatment either as soon as possible or immediately depending on whether or not you have any of the symptoms described above.

In case you experience any of the above symptoms persistently, we highly recommend that you schedule an appointment with our internal medicine specialist, Dr.Fasia Basir to learn more on how to detect and manage high cholesterol levels.

Dr.Fasia Basir (MBBS, FCPS II), is the medical director and specialist internal medicine at Zia Medical Center. Her clinical services and expertise include all aspects of Internal Medicine such as diabetes, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia and thyroid diseases. She also holds a comprehensive interest in Neurological disorders such as headache, dementia, stroke, Parkinson’s disease and Epilepsy.

Call +971 433 87878 or click here to book your appointment.

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