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July 25, 2022

What is the ideal blood pressure number?

The most recent recommendations define a normal value as being less than 120/80 mm Hg (see below). However, it is not a magic number that should be used to determine what a specific person should aim towards. Instead, it's best to think about the blood pressure range that best suits your unique situation, with the overarching objective of aiming for the lowest acceptable top and bottom values.

Therefore, the crucial question is: what is acceptable? One size does not fit all. It depends on a variety of variables, including whether there are any other chronic illnesses present, such as kidney or heart disease. For instance, you don't want your diastolic pressure (the bottom number) to be lower than 50 to 55 mm Hg if you have coronary artery disease.

Blood pressure categories

Blood pressure category

Systolic mm Hg (upper number)

Diastolic mm Hg (lower number)

Normal

Less than 120

and

Less than 80

Elevated

120 – 129

and

Less than 80

High blood pressure (hypertension) Stage 1

130 – 139

or

80 – 89

High blood pressure (hypertension) Stage 2

140 or higher

or

90 or higher

Hypertensive crisis (consult your doctor immediately)

Higher than 180

and/or

Higher than 120


Your age, general health, and whether you have prescription adverse effects all influence the blood pressure target that you and your doctor decide upon. Your attention will likely be drawn to the top number because the majority of research has linked negative outcomes with high systolic pressure (the top number).

  
Generally speaking, you want to keep your systolic pressure between 110 and 119 mm Hg as long as you feel good and don't get lightheaded when you stand up. People often become more sensitive as they become older to the dip in blood pressure that happens when they sit or stand up straight. Prevent fainting and falls, which might require some people to accept a higher systolic reading. Even if your systolic blood pressure is about 120 mm Hg, making an effort to reduce it even slightly will reduce your risk of suffering a serious cardiovascular event.

According to a recent study, lowering systolic blood pressure by 5 mm Hg significantly lowers the risk of heart attack, stroke, and heart failure death by roughly 10%. Trying to lower your blood pressure doesn't always mean taking extra medication. Your number can be lowered by making lifestyle adjustments like exercising, eating more plant-based foods high in potassium and calcium, and losing weight if you are overweight.


Photo by Vlada Karpovich: https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-holding-a-blood-pressure-cuff-5790823/
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No Health content on this site, regardless of date, should be used to replace direct medical advice from your doctor or another trained practitioner.
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