If you’ve ever been to the doctor’s office, you’ve probably had your blood pressure taken. Depending on your age and the results, you may have never put too much thought into what your blood pressure means. Here’s the thing — blood pressure is important. The higher your blood pressure, the greater your risk for encountering health problems as high blood pressure places extra strain on both your arteries and your heart.
We take a look at the basics behind blood pressure, so you have the information you need to stay healthy.
First things first: what are the two numbers you look at for blood pressure and what do they mean?
The first number is systolic blood pressure and this indicates how much pressure blood is exerting against artery walls when the heart beats.
The second number is diastolic blood pressure, which indicates how much pressure your blood is exerting against artery walls as the heart rests between beats.
Systolic blood pressure is a major risk indicator for cardiovascular disease, particularly for people over the age of 50. For this reason, more attention may be given to systolic blood pressure. It typically rises steadily as a person ages because the large arteries become stiffer and plaque builds up over time.
That said, elevated levels of either systolic or diastolic blood pressure could indicate high blood pressure. Read on to understand the different ranges for blood pressure.
The key to understanding whether your blood pressure is good or bad is to know the different ranges, which are normal, elevated, hypertension stage 1, hypertension stage 2, and hypertensive crisis. Let’s look at these in a little more detail.
This range is when blood pressure numbers fall under 120/80 mm Hg. Balanced diet and exercise are key components to maintaining blood pressure within this healthy range.
Your blood pressure is considered elevated when readings consistently range from 120-129 systolic and under 80 mm Hg diastolic. Elevated blood pressure often leads to high blood pressure, so additional steps should be taken to control blood pressure that falls into this range.
Your blood pressure may fall into Hypertension Stage 1 if it consistently ranges from 130-139 systolic or 80-89 mm Hg diastolic. If your blood pressure falls within this range, your doctor may recommend that you make some lifestyle changes and may prescribe blood pressure medication. The latter will depend on your risk factors for atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases (ASCVD), aka heart attack or stroke.
Your blood pressure may fall into Hypertension Stage 2 if it consistently ranges at 140/90 mm Hg or higher. At this point, your doctor will probably prescribe a combination of blood pressure medications and lifestyle changes.
This is an emergency stage of high blood pressure and requires medical attention. Hypertensive crisis happens ff your blood pressure readings suddenly exceed 180/120 mm Hg after being tested several times. Multiple readings that are unusually high require a doctor’s intervention, so you should not hesitate to contact your doctor immediately. If your high blood pressure reading is accompanied by shortness of breath, chest pain, numbness, weakness, or other symptoms of organ damage, you should call 911 immediately.
Whether you are well-versed on blood pressure or just beginning to understand this important health metric, Decent health plans make it easy to keep blood pressure in check. All of our plans offer free primary care, so you can visit your doctor and have your blood pressure checked regularly. In other words, you don’t pay anything out of pocket to see your primary care doctor. Whether you’re visiting for a regularly scheduled check-up or because you may be experiencing symptoms of an illness, you can talk to your doctor effortlessly...and without paying a dime. Our plans offer both standard and virtual options, so you can schedule same- or next-day appointments to see your doctor in-person or virtually — whichever is easiest for you.