Health & Fitness

Understanding Blood Pressure Categories

Although we all know that measuring blood pressure is important – and especially that high blood pressure is bad – there are actually quite a few categories that extend beyond the basic “normal” and “high” categories. for starters, blood pressure is recorded as two numbers, referred to as systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Systolic blood pressure determines how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls every time your heart beats, while the diastolic blood pressure indicates the pressure your blood exerts against your artery walls while the heart is at rest. There’s a whole lot more to it, though, and because blood pressure can actually be a complex subject, so with this in mind, in this article we take a look at the various categories of blood pressure and how they work.

Blood pressure basics

For starters, the numbers above (systolic being the first, diastolic being the second) are used to determine a variety of health indicators – something that blood pressure monitor reviews typically won’t inform you about.  The systolic blood pressure is usually considered the more important, as this number can determine the risk factor for cardiovascular disease for people over the age of 50. Why 50, you might ask? This is because the systolic blood pressure typically rises with age due to a combination of the increased stiffening of large arteries, long-term build-up of plaque and an increased occurrence of cardiac and vascular disease. Blood pressure is much more than these numbers, though – blood pressure is actually measured in five pressure ranges, with normal being the first of these. Normal blood pressure is typically represented in demonstrated numbers of less than 120/80 mm Hg. Mm Hg refers to the millimetres of mercury in the pressure gauge – despite being used in the first of these pressure gauges, mercury (despite its scary reputation) is a highly useful metal in science and is still used in instruments like blood pressure gauges to this day.

More serious blood pressure categories

There are actually a series of labels after the “normal” pressure reading, and elevated is the first of these. Elevated blood pressure is determined when readings are found to range from 120-129 systolic and under 80 mm Hg diastolic. Although not an indicator of a situation that is immediately harmful, those found to have elevated blood pressure have a good chance of developing high blood pressure if they don’t manage the unhealthier aspects of their lifestyle. After elevated blood pressure comes Hypertension Stage 1 – at this stage blood pressure ranges from 130-139 systolic or 80-89 mm Hg diastolic. If this blood pressure range is found in a patient, doctors will strongly advise lifestyle changes and potentially even prescribe medication.  In Hypertension Stage 2, blood pressure ranges at over 140 systolic and 90 mm Hg or diastolic. This stage of high blood pressure will also warrant doctors prescribing both blood pressure medications and lifestyle changes.

Staying on top of blood pressure

If the prior stages of blood pressure are not well managed by the patient, there’s a chance that they will experience a hypertensive health crisis. If this is the case, medical attention will be necessary and your doctor should be called immediately in the event that you’re testing your blood pressure from home. Otherwise, remember to maintain positive lifestyle changes to ensure such a scenario is unlikely to happen!

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