A Normal Blood Pressure Range: What Should the Numbers Look Like?
A normal blood pressure range is important to support heart and overall health. We're explaining everything you need to know about what blood pressure numbers mean.
If you have ever been to the doctor, you are undoubtedly familiar with the practice of taking blood pressure readings. Taking blood pressure is critical, as high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, gives no warning sign.
What’s more, many people are unaware they have the condition until complications arise and it might be too late. This is why hypertension is coined the “silent killer.”
But what actually do blood pressure numbers mean? Is there such a thing of a perfect blood pressure? If so, how do you ensure readings continuously fall in the recommended range? Find out what the numbers should look like and what to do about it here!
What Is a Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure (BP) measures the force of blood against artery walls as the heart pumps it. A blood pressure range is comprised of two measurements: systolic and diastolic.
• Systolic blood pressure measures the pressure within the arteries while the heart is pumping blood. A systolic blood pressure range should be between 90 and 120.
• Diastolic blood pressure measures the pressure between each heart beat or pump, or when the heart is resting and refilling with blood.
Blood pressure is read as systolic over diastolic (systolic/diastolic) with measurements written as millimeters of mercury (mmHg). Measurements are then placed into the following categories:
BP chart sourced from the American Heart Association (AHA)
What Do the Numbers Mean?
A 120 over 80 blood pressure or under is considered to be normal. At this point, no medical mediations are necessary, but individuals are encouraged to sustain a healthy lifestyle while still monitoring blood pressures as advised.
An elevated reading of 120 to 129 and less than 80 is also known as prehypertension. This is essentially a predictive warning sign of developing high blood pressure, or hypertension.
While hypertension was previously diagnosed at 140 over 90 or higher, new guidelines indicated in the chart above, identify the first stage hypertension blood pressure range is measured at 130 to 139 or 80 to 89.
Before being diagnosed with hypertension, your doctor will likely take two to three blood pressure readings each at three or more separate appointments according to the Mayo Clinic. Calculating average blood pressure also helps provide a more accurate picture of current status, as pressures naturally fluctuate throughout the day.
If managing diabetes, heart failure, and other conditions, blood pressures are recommended to be kept below 130/85. However, a primary care can help determine a safe range for you, along with recognize any concern for too low of readings.
Causes, Risk Factors, and Consequences of High Blood Pressure
While there is no accredited blood pressure chart by age, weight, and gender, each variable, amongst others, can influence readings. WebMD suggests while the exact causes of high blood pressure are not known, these factors likely play a role:
• Poor diet, including too much salt and alcohol consumption
• A sedentary lifestyle
• Genetics and family history of hypertension
• Growing older
• Certain health conditions, including chronic kidney disease, adrenal and thyroid disorders, and sleep apnea
Individuals may also have elevated blood pressure due to white coat syndrome. While a normal resting blood pressure might be 110/72 mmHg, going to the doctor may cause feelings of anxiety and an abnormal reading.
Exceeding the recommended or normal blood pressure range for men and women deserves strategic interventions to lower readings, which should be coordinated with a healthcare professional. Without proper management, hypertension can have serious and dangerous effects on the body. The Mayo Clinic identifies the following health consequences of high blood pressure:
• Narrowed, weakened, and damaged blood vessels
• Coronary artery disease (CAD)
• Enlarged left heart
• Heart failure
• Transient ischemic attach (TIA)
• Mild cognitive impairment
• Kidney failure and scarring
• Eye blood vessel damage
• Nerve damage (neuropathy)
• Sexual dysfunction
• Bone loss
• Sleep difficulties
How to Manage Blood Pressure
Knowing blood pressure meaning and risks is the first step. The second is making sure average blood pressure ranges remain in recommended levels. Fortunately, individuals can help reduce and manage blood pressures by:
1. Monitoring Blood Pressures
Monitoring and recording blood pressures at is where patients can become their own advocate. Taking blood pressures at home provides useful information on current health status. They also help determine how effective current treatments are working and mitigate from threatening health risks.
The American Heart Association outlines the proper way to monitor blood pressures at home, which includes being still, sitting correctly, measuring consistently, and recording results.
2. Making Lifestyle Changes
While age, genetics, and other factors are unmodifiable, there are numerous modifications that can help reduce and manage blood pressure.
Making dietary changes has a profound impact on reducing blood pressure. Incorporating more whole grains, fruits, veggies, lean and plant-based proteins, and healthy fat sources is encouraged. Lowering salt intake is additionally recommended. If the stress of eating a healthy is overwhelming, consider utilizing a meal delivery service that offers a heart-healthy program.
Participating in regular exercise, quitting smoking, and practicing stress-reduction techniques can further help control blood pressures. Losing weight is often a byproduct of making healthier lifestyle changes, which further lessens the risk of high blood pressure. Besides, weight loss further reduces the risk of additional diseases and improves overall health.
3. Taking Medications
While making lifestyle changes are primarily encouraged, medications may be prescribed if blood pressures are not controlled. They might also be advised for more aggressive treatment.
It is important to follow-up with a doctor to verify the prescription’s effectiveness and continue scheduling routine visits.
Ultimately, keep in the know of your blood pressure numbers and work with a doctor accordingly. Ensuring healthy blood pressures cannot only mitigate the risks of additional, but be lifesaving.
Besides, hypertension is not noted as the “silent killer” for nothing!