Understanding Your Blood Pressure Reading

Understanding Your Blood Pressure Reading

You’ve had your blood pressure taken dozens of times. The nurse wraps the black cuff around your arm, and it inflates until your arm feels squeezed. Then, as the cuff deflates, they use a stethoscope to take two readings, or a machine does it automatically.

The nurse usually announces the blood pressure reading, but how many of us really understand what those numbers mean? Is your blood pressure normal, or is it high? And what if it’s too high? What happens then?

Dr. Rajesh Dave and his team at Gulf West Medical Associates in Port Richey, Florida, have the answers you’re looking for. Here’s what you need to know to understand your blood pressure reading.

What’s blood pressure?

Blood pressure is the force (or pressure) within the arteries that circulate blood throughout your body. The pressure should be strong enough to pump blood to your organs, delivering nutrients and carrying away waste products. 

Your blood pressure is measured with two readings: the top number, or systolic blood pressure, measures the force your heart exerts on the walls of your arteries when it beats.

The bottom number, or diastolic blood pressure, measures the force on your artery walls between heartbeats. 

These two numbers together represent your blood pressure.

What are normal and high blood pressure readings?

Blood pressure readings fall into several categories:

A Stage 1 or 2 reading means you have high blood pressure, or hypertension. If you’re in a hypertensive crisis, seek immediate medical attention.

What are the dangers of high blood pressure?

High blood pressure means your heart is working too hard and the force of the blood on your arteries is too great. Untreated, your blood vessels can thicken or weaken. 

Several serious (and potentially fatal) consequences can result from high blood pressure, including stroke, heart disease, heart failure, blood clots, and kidney disease.

High blood pressure can be treated by adopting a healthier lifestyle and taking medication. You should also consider keeping a blood pressure monitor at home to track your readings. 

May is Hypertension Awareness Month. If it’s been a while since you had your blood pressure checked, or if you know your blood pressure is high and need help bringing it down, the team at Gulf West Medical Associates is ready to help. Call our office or book an appointment online.

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