How To Understand Blood Pressure Readings? Symptoms And Causes!

Blood pressure refers to the pressure applied on the walls of your blood vessels when the blood cells circulate within them. It falls and rises throughout the day, and although that is normal, sometimes it can reach extreme levels and have adverse effects on your body.

If you have visited the doctor to get a blood pressure reading, or even purchased a blood pressure monitor to measure it at home, then there is a good chance that the numbers on the monitor could have led to some confusion. Read on to find out how you can comprehend these blood pressure readings in an easy way.

How to Understand Blood Pressure Readings?

How To Understand Blood Pressure Readings

Understanding the numbers

You might have heard that the normal blood pressure reading should be around 180/20 mm Hg. So, what exactly does this mean? Well, these two numbers signify systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Systolic blood pressure refers to the pressure applied by the blood vessels on the constricted arteries every time your heartbeats. The normal level for this is around 120 or below. Diastolic blood pressure is the pressure applied on the arteries when the heart rests between two beats. At this point in time, the heart is filled with blood and receives oxygen. The normal level for this has to be below 80. Both of these parameters are useful, as they indicate how healthy your heart is at the moment. 

Striving for a normal reading

In order to have normal blood pressure, your reading of the systolic blood pressure needs to lie between the range of 90 to 120, while the diastolic blood pressure has to be within 60 to 80. According to the American Heart Association, your blood pressure can be ascertained as normal when the numbers lie between these intervals. The abbreviated unit- mm Hg, refers to millimeters of mercury and is commonly used to measure blood pressure. Aspiring to have a blood pressure that lies within the normal range should always be your goal since this requires absolutely no medical intervention. In order to maintain healthy blood pressure, you should consume a balanced diet and maintain an active lifestyle. Work on relieving yourself of stress or hypertension, as this can be a trigger for high blood pressure. 

Red flags

If your systolic blood pressure is between 120 to 129 and your diastolic blood pressure is slightly above 80, then you have slipped into the risky zone. It is not medically considered as high blood pressure, but it is a warning signal for you to inculcate healthier habits and take better care of your heart. If you want to cut down your chances of heart attacks or strokes at this stage, then watching your weight and eating healthy food should definitely become your new mantra. 


Stage 1 – You will have reached stage 1 of hypertension if your systolic blood pressure is between 130 to 139, or if the diastolic blood pressure is between 80 and 89. The diagnosis of hypertension will only be valid if this reading persists on an average basis, and not only after one reading. At this point, your doctor might prescribe certain medications to maintain homeostasis and will definitely recommend some positive changes in your lifestyle. Adhering to them is a must if you wish to improve your heart health. 

Stage 2 – If your reading is above 140/90 mm Hg, then it is considered as stage 2 of hypertension. Here, the medications might get more intense in order to keep the blood pressure at a normal level. These pills will have to be complemented by some serious changes in your lifestyle, such as eating only healthy foods and exercising regularly. If you experience symptoms such as chest pain, dizziness, shortness of breath, and headaches among others, along with high blood pressure, then visit the doctor immediately. 

Low blood pressure

Sometimes, the blood pressure reading may drop below 90/60 mm Hg. This is also known as low blood pressure or hypotension. If it reaches an extreme level, then it can be overwhelmingly dangerous since it means that the heart is not receiving enough oxygen. A few causes of low blood pressure may include malnutrition, dehydration, pregnancy, or even blood loss. 

The bottom line is, as long as your reading lies close to the normal 120/80 mm Hg, you are in the clear. If you experience any abnormal changes the definitely visit the doctor. Inculcate a healthier lifestyle including more mindful choices, as they can help you maintain a healthy heart. 

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