Understanding the numbers of your blood pressure results remains a mystery for many. Although having two numbers as an outcome generally means you have a beating heart, there is more to it than that. Since the American Heart Association reports approximately 72% of American Hispanics who suffered a stroke in the past 12 months had high pressure readings, it’s more important than ever to understand what these numbers say about you and your health.
When your health care professional finishes pumping air into that tight band around your arm, they will then produce a set of numbers. These numbers are the result of the pressure in your arteries and consist of two figures, a top number, which is called the systolic, and the bottom number, the diastolic.
Your systolic number is the higher of the two numbers and measures the pressure going into your arteries. Every time your heart muscle contracts, the pressure is recorded as the systolic number.
The bottom number of your pressure reading measures artery pressure between heartbeats. Each time your heart muscle rests and the arteries fill with blood, there is pressure to be measured there as well.
The next time you go to your doctor and have your artery pressure tested, you can compare your results to that of the American Heart Association.
Normal: a systolic of less than 120 and a diastolic of less than 8
Prehypertension: a systolic between 120 and 139 and a diastolic between 80 and 89
High blood pressure: a systolic between 140 and 159 and a diastolic between 90 and 99
High blood pressure: a systolic 160 or higher and a diastolic of 100 or more
Hypertensive crisis: a systolic 180 or higher and a diastolic of 110 or more
Who gets tested?
The American Heart Association recommends people begin getting tested once every two years beginning age 20, but only if your blood pressure is less than 120/80 mm Hg. Keep in mind that your heart beat changes with stress, excitement, relaxation, anxiety, and exercise, so the figure of 120/80 mm Hg is used as an average. Whether you are one of the 33.5% of Americans with high pressure, or you are part of the 72% of Hispanic stroke suffers, you should make a point to have your blood pressure monitored by your doctor.
Symptoms of heart issues
For the most part, high readings and heart issues are rather symptomless conditions, making it even more vital to have your pressure checked on a regular basis. While some people experience some symptoms before a heart attack, many others do not. Being vigilant about the following symptoms could help save your life:
Understanding the importance of a blood pressure reading and how it can be related to potential heart problems could be the key to preventing a heart attack.