ZocdocAnswersWhat do the numbers in a blood pressure reading mean?

Question

What do the numbers in a blood pressure reading mean?

What exactly do the numbers in a blood pressure reading mean? I understand that there are good numbers and bad numbers, but I can't really wrap my head around why, because I just don't understand what the numbers are supposed to literally mean. What makes the unhealthy range so bad for you?

Answer

Blood pressure is an important measure of over all health. The physicians who are qualified to discuss this issue with you include your primary care doctor. The blood pressure reading is composed of two numbers, the "top number" or "systolic blood pressure" and the "bottom number or "diastolic blood pressure. The systolic blood pressure is the physical pressure in the blood vessels of your body when your heart is contracting, and the diastolic blood pressure is the physical pressure in the blood vessels of your body when your heart is relaxing. A normal blood pressure reading for most people is a systolic blood pressure of less than 140 and a diastolic blood pressure of less than 90. These numbers may be even lower for certain high-risk people, such as those who have diabetes. The importance of knowing the blood pressure is that having high blood pressure puts you at higher risk for developing serious diseases later on in life, such as heart attacks and strokes. As always the diagnosis and management of your specific condition will require a physical examination by your personal physician. If you have concerns about your blood pressure then scheduling an appointment with your primary care physician is strongly recommended.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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