What Do Your Blood Pressure Readings Mean?
Uncovering the facts behind your blood pressure readings
If you have just obtained your blood pressure reading at your doctor recently, you may wonder what these numbers mean. It is not wrong to be completely clueless about the readings. Therefore, here is a simple guide to understanding your blood pressure readings for future reference.
Blood pressure numbers – what do they represent?
When you are presented with your blood pressure readings, it generally comes in this format:
The above data is read as “117 over 76 millimeters of mercury”
The numbers are typically divided into two different parts. The top is defined as systolic while the bottom half is the diastolic. The top figure represents the pressure in your arteries when your heart pumps blood to your entire system, which happens when your heart beats. The other number which is usually lower than the top half, dictates the pressure in the arteries between heart beats.This happens when the heart is taking a break from pumping blood to your body organs.
Before making blood pressure comparisons, consider these factors:
- Daily diet and food intake – Have you made changes to your food habits lately? If you have made these changes, you may see some tangible results in your blood pressure readings
- Overall health – Are you currently suffering from new illnesses or conditions? This will affect your blood pressure readings and should be looked into before you compare your blood pressure to what is considered normal.
- Family history – Do you have family members who suffer from high blood pressure or hypertension? Teenagers as young as 17 or 18 years old suffer from hereditary high blood pressure, which can be easily detected at a young age.
The factors above will contribute to fluctuating blood pressure readings.
No two blood pressure readings are the same
Your BP constantly changes when you stand up to walk, when you sleep, and when you perform strenuous activity. If you are an adult aged 21 and above, an optimal blood pressure reading to aim for would be near about 120/80 mm Hg.