What Blood Pressure Numbers Mean

by Jodee on February 10, 2009

When you go to the doctor and your blood pressure is taken, the reading is expressed in the form of two numbers. The purpose of the test is to measure the amount of force produced when your heart pumps blood against the walls of your arteries. This force will be at its highest when your heart is beating. When your heart relaxes, the amount of force will be lower.

The numbers the doctor or nurse writes down are made up of a combination of these two measurements. The higher number will be on top.

Normal Blood Pressure Reading

If your blood pressure reading is 120/80 or lower, then your blood pressure is normal. If your blood pressure reading is lower than 90/60, this is a symptom that needs to be investigated.

High Blood Pressure

A high blood pressure reading is 140/90 or higher. If you have a blood pressure reading that is between 120/80 and 139/89, you have prehypertension. This means that your condition isn’t serious enough (yet) to be called high blood pressure, but you are at risk of developing full-blown high blood pressure in the future.

Tips for Lowering Your Blood Pressure

If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, there are a few things you can do that may help to bring the numbers down to a safer level:

  • Quit smoking
  • Start exercising on a regular basis
  • Drink alcohol only in moderation (limit your intake to one drink per day or less)
  • Find ways to cope with stress, such as listening to music or engaging in a hobby you enjoy
  • Eat a balanced diet that includes a variety of foods, including fruits and vegetables, lean cuts of meat, whole grains, and dairy products (low-fat versions).

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