A Normal Blood Pressure Range: What Should the Numbers Look Like?
A normal blood pressure range is important to understand if you want to live a healthy life. We'll explain everything you need to know about healthy blood pressure readings.
If you’ve ever been to the doctor, as most of us have, you are undoubtedly familiar with the practice of taking blood pressure readings. While the average person may not understand the importance of these readings, they play an important part in keeping your body healthy.
That cuff that squeezes your arm just a bit too tight isn’t the doctor’s cruel form of torture: it’s their way of finding out if you have a normal blood pressure range.
A normal blood pressure range has been established as 120 over 80, but if you didn’t go to medical school, you probably don’t have a clue as to what these numbers mean.
Simply stated, a blood pressure range is comprised of two measurements: systolic and diastolic.
Your systolic blood pressure reading measures the pressure within the arteries while the heart is pumping blood. Your diastolic blood pressure reading is the pressure within the arteries when the heart is resting and refilling with blood.
It is essential that a person, or their doctor, keep track of their blood pressure readings. Individuals who fall outside of the normal blood pressure range of 120/80 can be at an increased risk of developing vascular diseases.
So you’ve been to the doctor – and good news – your blood pressure is very near the normal blood pressure range! If you think it’s time to celebrate, think again.
Christy Shatlock, MS/RD, and one of the lead dietitians for BistroMD, explains why you might not want to celebrate too soon.
“While 120/80 has been the standard for blood pressure for the past century, new studies are showing that there may be a decreased risk of heart attack or stroke with a reading of 115/75.”
“As medical science has progressed, our understanding of the thresholds at which onset of various vascular diseases occurs has increased significantly,” says Christy. “Because of this, the new standard for a normal blood pressure range has recently skewed closer to the 115/75 mark.”
The Factors that Influence
As with almost every other aspect of life, blood pressure is affected by a multitude of interconnected factors. Two of the most recent ones studied are age and height.
For many years, height has been used as a reason to either raise, or lower, the individual standard for one’s normal blood pressure range. Recently, however, this practice has become less common.
As occurred with the shift in the standard normal blood pressure range, advancements in medical science have shown that the increase in average blood pressure due to height has minimal effect on your blood pressure.
Unlike height, age is still a major factor in regards to changes in a normal blood pressure reading.
As a person ages, their blood pressure rises. How much it rises, and how rapidly, are important considerations when assessing a person’s risk for vascular complications, like heart attack or stroke.
In addition to height and age, weight, gender, ethnicity, stress levels, and many other factors can lead to the development of high blood pressure.
Take the Time to Monitor
To stay healthy, Christy recommends that all people, seniors especially, monitor their blood pressure regularly.
“In the case of seniors, it is crucial that they understand the importance of regular blood pressure screenings. To maintain good health, it becomes more and more important for one’s readings to fall within the normal blood pressure range as they age,” says Christy.
The numbers and medical terminology associated with a normal blood pressure range can be a bit tricky to understand and navigate. However, fear not when it comes to reading the results, because there are countless tools available to assist you.
BistroMD’s dietitian, Christy, recommends purchasing a home blood pressure meter.
“They’re easy to use, and many interpret the data automatically, leaving you with no confusing numbers to crunch.”
For more tips from our experts, please visit our healthy facts section for more information.
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