Comparison of Systolic and Diastolic Blood Pressure Systolic blood pressure, the upper number, measures artery pressure during heartbeats. Diastolic blood pressure (lower number) gauges artery pressure between beats when the heart is resting.
The Significance of Monitoring Your Blood Pressure
The heart pumps blood through arteries, but it does not flow uniformly like water from a hose. Blood flows in pulses, moving throughout the body during each heartbeat.
Blood pressure and flow rate fluctuate constantly due to changing pulse and pressure levels. Systolic pressure, when the heart beats, registers the highest pressure. Diastolic pressure, between heartbeats, records the lowest pressure level. The standard way of measuring the force of blood flow is by using these numbers to describe its pulsing pressure. This method is preferred by medical providers to evaluate blood pressure.
Both systolic and diastolic blood pressure values are crucial to monitor as they indicate blood flow pressure in the body. High readings signify high blood pressure, while low readings suggest insufficient blood supply to vital organs, including the brain. It’s essential to maintain normal readings to prevent the risk of severe health conditions that can affect the cardiovascular system, kidneys, and other organs.
The Upper Number of Blood Pressure Readings
When the heart contracts during a heartbeat, it propels blood into the arteries, resulting in systolic pressure. The peak pressure during this phase, called systole, is the highest value for blood pressure. It is a crucial metric that physicians use to monitor cardiovascular health. For a person resting in a seated position, systolic blood pressure is normal when it measures below 120 mmHg (millimetres of mercury). This reading is used to determine overall cardiovascular health.
If systolic pressure measures below 90 mmHg, medical intervention may be necessary, and a healthcare provider should be consulted. On the other hand, a systolic pressure reading above 180 mmHg is deemed dangerously high, and multiple instances of such measurements require prompt medical attention. It is vital to monitor blood pressure regularly to avoid potential complications related to high or low blood pressure.
Elevated Upper Number of Blood Pressure
When the heart rate increases due to physical activity, stress, or any other reason, the heart muscle propels blood with greater force, leading to an increase in systolic pressure.
Although higher systolic pressure during physical activity and stress is typical, it is not normal to have high blood pressure at rest. Such readings indicate hypertension, a severe health condition that needs immediate attention. To diagnose hypertension accurately, it’s essential to measure blood pressure during periods of rest, as physical activity can increase readings. It’s crucial to maintain a quiet environment during measurements to ensure that blood pressure values are not affected by external factors.
Stiffening of arteries is the primary cause of elevated systolic blood pressure. When arteries lose their elasticity, the heart has to exert more force to pump blood through them, resulting in high blood pressure.
There are various stages within the range of high systolic pressure:
A systolic blood pressure range of 130-139 indicates Stage 1 hypertension that may be treated temporarily with medication and changes in lifestyle to lower blood pressure levels.
When systolic blood pressure reaches 140 or higher, it indicates Stage 2 hypertension, which can significantly increase the likelihood of heart attack or stroke. Managing this condition may require a prolonged medication regimen. If your systolic blood pressure exceeds 180, you are experiencing hypertensive crisis and should immediately contact your healthcare provider for assistance.
Reduced Systolic Blood Pressure
When the systolic pressure is much lower than 90 mmHg, it is considered hypotension, and it can lead to symptoms such as fainting, dizziness, or lightheadedness. If left untreated, hypotension may damage organs such as the kidneys. Therefore, it is important to seek medical attention if you experience persistent low blood pressure.
When the body lacks sufficient blood, as in cases of severe dehydration or major bleeding, systolic hypotension can occur. This is characterized by low blood pressure, where there is insufficient blood to circulate properly throughout the body.
Insufficient systolic blood pressure can result from weakened heart muscles, such as in cases of cardiomyopathy, or from sudden arterial dilation, as in vasovagal syncope, which triggers fainting through a reflex. Orthostatic hypotension is a condition where blood pressure drops suddenly when a person changes positions quickly. This can make them feel dizzy or lightheaded. It occurs because blood pools in the legs due to gravity and doesn’t return to the heart and brain as quickly as it should.
The Bottom Blood Pressure Number
During the cardiac cycle, there is a brief moment of rest between heartbeats, known as diastole. The diastolic blood pressure is the pressure recorded during this phase, which indicates the pressure in the arteries when the heart is at rest before the next heartbeat.
During a resting state, a diastolic blood pressure below 80 mmHg is considered normal. However, individuals with high blood pressure tend to have higher diastolic numbers even during rest. If the diastolic pressure is 60 mmHg or lower, it is dangerously low, and if it’s 110 mmHg or higher, it is dangerously high. Receiving multiple readings with these numbers warrants a call to your healthcare provider for necessary intervention and management. Low diastolic pressure can occur due to dehydration, severe bleeding or widening of arteries.
High diastolic blood pressure can be classified into different stages:
• Stage 1 hypertension is characterized by diastolic BP of 80-89, which can be treated with lifestyle changes or short-term medication.
• Stage 2 hypertension is diagnosed when the diastolic BP is 90 mmHg or higher, which significantly increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. Managing this stage may require a prolonged medication regimen along with lifestyle changes.
• If your diastolic blood pressure exceeds 120 mmHg, it can be a sign of a hypertensive crisis, which requires immediate medical attention. Don’t wait to seek help if you experience symptoms like severe headache, shortness of breath, or chest pain, as they could be a sign of a serious health problem.
Optimal Timing for Measuring Blood Pressure
• Experts recommend monitoring blood pressure over an extended period and taking repeated measurements at home before diagnosing hypertension.
• Blood pressure fluctuates throughout the day, with higher readings in the morning and lower readings at night. It’s important to take multiple readings at different times of day to get an accurate picture.
• To get an accurate measurement, your healthcare provider may recommend using a blood pressure monitor at different times of the day, like in the morning and afternoon. However, it’s important to avoid taking the readings immediately after waking up or after having dinner, as these times can cause fluctuations in blood pressure.
• It’s best to take your morning blood pressure reading before eating or taking medication, especially if you have coffee. For the evening reading, take it before going to bed and avoid taking it after medication.