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We all know that understanding blood pressure & maintaining healthy readings are important for our overall health and longevity. After all, it’s one of the most talked about indicators of health, particularly when it comes to the heart.
But what exactly is blood pressure? Do you know what your blood pressure numbers mean? Compare your measurements to the charts below and read about Understanding blood pressure readings.
The chart below provides a general overview of blood pressure ranges. To use the chart, take your blood pressure and identify your systolic & diastolic readings to compare.
Diagnosing high or low blood pressure only requires one measurement (systolic or diastolic) to be outside of the healthy range ( Chart Reference).
Keep in mind that it is possible for your readings to be affected by other factors like age, medication, & sometimes even gender. Check out the chart below for a breakdown of blood pressure ranges by age.
While guidelines usually recommend the same blood pressure range for everyone regardless of age, it’s generally recognized that almost everyone experiences high blood pressure eventually, as it gradually increases with the years.
The following table provides a rough guide to understanding blood pressure as we age. Start by taking your blood pressure to find your systolic (top number) & diastolic (bottom number) pressure, locate your age range in the right-hand column and see where your readings fall.
|Age||Hypotension (low blood pressure)||Normal BP||Prehypertension||Hypertension Stage 1||Hypertension Stage 2|
|17-19||< 90||< 60||<120||<85||<120||<80||<140||<89||<150||<100|
|20-24||< 90||< 60||<120||<79||<125||<82||<140||<85||<150||<100|
|25-29||< 90||< 60||<121||<80||<132||<83||<140||<88||<150||<100|
|30 - 34||< 90||< 60||<122||<81||<134||<85||<140||<90||<160||<100|
|35 - 39||< 90||< 60||<123||<82||<135||<86||<142||<91||<162||<101|
|40 - 44||< 90||< 60||<125||<83||<137||<87||<144||<92||<164||<102|
|45 - 49||< 90||< 60||<127||<84||<139||<88||<146||<93||<166||<103|
|50 - 54||< 90||< 60||<129||<85||<141||<89||<148||<94||<168||<104|
|55 - 59||< 90||< 60||<131||<86||<143||<90||<150||<95||<170||<105|
|60+||< 90||< 60||<134||<87||<146||<91||<153||<96||<173||<106|
S = Systolic Pressure
D = Diastolic Pressure
Blood pressure charts are commonly broken down by age. Sometimes gender can influence readings, but measurements are still compared on the same scale. ( Chart reference)
Locate your readings on the chart above & Click below to learn more about your blood pressure:
*Remember to always consult with your doctor for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan when it comes to your blood pressure readings.
Personal characteristics which play a role in blood pressure readings are:
According to the National Institute on Aging, males are more likely to have high blood pressure before age 55, while normal blood pressure for women tends to see a rise in after menopause. Women are less likely than men to experience complications associated with high blood pressure.
However, regardless of differences in the prevalence and complications of high blood pressure between the sexes, treatment and diagnosis are the same for both men and women.
In normal blood pressure for elderly & adults over 50, increasing systolic blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease. Systolic blood pressure tends to increase steadily over time due to stiff arteries, a build-up of plaque, and a higher rate of cardiac and vascular disease. This means older adults need to be even more vigilant about monitoring their blood pressure.
Taller people tend to have higher blood pressure because this offsets gravity and other factors to ensure the brain - the highest organ - gets enough blood flow and oxygen. However, the effect of height is minor, so it’s not taken into account in blood pressure range guidelines
High blood pressure can run in families.
While a rising heart rate will increase blood flow through the body, it does not necessarily correspond with an increase in the pressure of that blood flow. This is because blood vessels have the ability to increase in size (dilate) to facilitate larger quantities of blood. Even if your heart rate were to double, your normal blood pressure & high pulse may only slightly increase blood pressure.
Understanding blood pressure numbers is helpful when making your health a priority. Blood pressure is a measure of the force the circulating blood exerts on the blood vessel walls. Blood pressure readings consist of two numbers. The top number is the systolic blood pressure, and the bottom is the diastolic blood pressure (e.g. 120/80). Diagnosing high blood pressure only requires for one of these numbers to be outside of the specified range.
The force of the blood on the blood vessels when the heart beats.
The force that exists between heart beats.
Normal blood pressure can range from 110 to 134 (systolic) over 75 to 87 (diastolic), depending on your age.
If your blood pressure reading is defined as ‘normal’, that means you are within the healthy range - which is great news for your arteries, heart, brain, and kidneys!
Here are some tips to help you keep your blood pressure reading within the normal and healthy range:
A diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and lean protein sources like fish and beans goes a long way toward maintaining normal blood pressure and heart health.
Be sure to avoid processed foods, trans fats, and red meat, and cut down on your intake of sugar and saturated fat.
Season your food with herbs and spices instead of salt - which is known to raise blood pressure. The American Heart Association recommends an ideal limit of no more than 1,500 mg of sodium a day (a little over half a teaspoon of salt). Bear in mind that over 75% of our sodium intake comes from the salt already added to processed foods and restaurant meals, and not from the salt shaker.
A high salt intake throws off the balance of sodium and potassium in the body, increasing fluid retention, and putting excess strain on the kidneys and the blood vessels that serve them. Potassium-rich foods such as potatoes, bananas, avocado, sweet potato, and dark leafy greens will help lessen the effects of sodium.
Routine exercise is a imperative for taking steps to maintain normal readings or lower high blood pressure ( Image Reference).
Make sure to engage in regular activities to keep blood pressure within the normal range. Exercise causes the body to release nitric acid, which helps blood vessels to dilate, reducing blood pressure.
Regular activity also helps with weight loss, stress reduction, and heart health.
Staying within a healthy weight range for your height is important to keep blood pressure under control. Excess pounds are a risk factor for heart disease and type 2 diabetes, two conditions associated with high blood pressure.
Stress causes an increase in blood pressure, so staying cool and calm can help you maintain your healthy blood pressure readings. Relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, and yoga are proven stress-busters.
Too much alcohol increases blood pressure and contributes to weight gain. Women of any age and men over 65 should enjoy no more than one drink a day, and men under 65 should have no more than two drinks daily.
Smoking increases blood pressure and heart rate and raises the risk of heart attack or stroke. Nicotine also leads to narrowing and hardening of the arteries.
The blood pressure readings which indicate prehypertension vary from 130 to 146 (systolic) over 85 to 91 (diastolic), depending on age.
If your blood pressure is slightly elevated, you have a condition known as prehypertension - something which tends to progress to hypertension (high blood pressure) if left untreated.
Causes of prehypertension are the same as the causes of hypertension, and the treatment options are similar.
At this stage, there may be no noticeable hypertension symptoms , but damage to the body may still be occurring, and your risk of heart attack and stroke is increased.
Click below to learn more about what causes prehypertension, the symptoms & the best treatment methods
Readings in this category range from 140 to 153 (systolic) over 90 to 96 (diastolic), depending on age.
Stage 1 hypertension, which can be caused by everything from poor diet to stress, is considered to be mild to moderate high blood pressure.
Many people with stage 1 hypertension don’t experience any noticeable symptoms but nonetheless should begin treatments for high blood pressure immediately.
If not addressed, stage 1 hypertension will increase your risk of heart attack, stroke, and other serious health issues. It may also progress to stage 2 hypertension - a more severe high blood pressure.
Click below to learn more about what causes stage 1 hypertension, the symptoms & the best treatment methods
Blood pressure readings which are greater than 160 (systolic) or 100 (diastolic) indicate stage 2 hypertension.
Stage 2 hypertension is severe high blood pressure. This is a very serious form of high blood pressure and requires immediate treatment - which includes eliminating the root causes of the condition
At this stage, you may be noticing some symptoms of hypertension and your risk of heart attack, stroke, and other serious health issues greatly increased.
Click below to learn more about what causes stage 2 hypertension, the symptoms & the best treatment methods
Risks associated with high blood pressure can become life threatening if not properly monitored or addressed ( Image reference).
Most people with high blood pressure, particularly prehypertension and stage 1 hypertension, don’t experience any symptoms.
Even at stage 2, hypertension may not cause any noticeable effects. Those who do experience symptoms may have:
However, even in the absence of symptoms, the elevated blood pressure is still damaging your blood vessels and heart and increasing the risk of heart attack, heart disease, stroke and more.
For these reasons, regular check-ups or at-home blood pressure readings are necessary to stop progression or to reverse some of the damage done.
For many people, no one specific factor leads to the development of high blood pressure. It tends to develop gradually over time as a result of age and the build-up of fatty deposits in the arteries.
However, some lifestyle factors can hasten its onset - including a high-sodium diet, too much alcohol, inactivity, and stress.
Health conditions like thyroid disease, kidney disease, and sleep apnea; and medications such as prescription drugs, decongestants, and pain relievers may also be contributing factors.
Whether you have prehypertension, or full-blown hypertension at any stage, the treatments options are the same. However, those with more severe high blood pressure may need to be more aggressive in their approach than those with blood pressure readings which are close to normal.
A small, portable, at-home blood pressure monitor cuff is a convenient way to stay on top of your readings throughout the day ( Image Reference).If you have any of the health conditions associated with high blood pressure, including sleep apnea, kidney problems, or thyroid disease, it is important to follow the treatment plan you were prescribed. Invest in an at home blood pressure monitor to help track your readings. This will help to:
A healthy, balanced, diet helps to keep high blood pressure at bay ( Image Reference).
What you put in your body can have a profound impact on your health. Choose to fill your plate with fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and lean protein sources like fish and beans. Make sure to incorporate drinks that lower blood pressure and avoid diuretics.
For lower blood pressure and all-around better health, avoid processed foods, trans fats, and red meat, and cut down on your intake of sugar and saturated fat.
Too much dietary salt disturbs the delicate balance of sodium and potassium in the body. This increases fluid retention and puts excess strain on the kidneys and the blood vessels around the kidneys.
The American Heart Association recommends people consume no more than 1,500 mg of sodium a day - which is a little over half a teaspoon of salt. It’s not just the salt in the salt shaker you should be concerned with - research shows that over 75% of our sodium intake comes from the salt already added to processed foods and restaurant meals.
Potassium-rich foods such as potatoes, bananas, avocado, sweet potato, and dark leafy greens will help lessen the effects of sodium.
Make sure to engage in regular activities to bring your blood pressure back into the normal range.
Exercise causes the body to release nitric acid, which helps blood vessels to dilate, reducing blood pressure. Regular activity also helps with weight loss, stress reduction, and heart health.
Walking, cycling, swimming, water aerobics, golf (without a cart), and yoga are all fantastic exercises for adults of all ages.
Don’t forget that other everyday activities which involve movement - known as incidental physical activities - can contribute to improved fitness levels, at least according to some research. This includes things like moderate intensity gardening, vacuuming, washing the car, or walking around the supermarket.
Carrying excess weight can be dangerous to your health, and especially high blood pressure, requiring your arteries to work harder ( Image Reference).
If you are overweight, try dropping a few pounds and checking your blood pressure levels again. Losing just 5 pounds can make a difference!
Being overweight or obese is also a risk factor for heart disease and type 2 diabetes, two conditions associated with high blood pressure.
Stress and anxiety may be contributing to your elevated blood pressure results. Practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, and yoga on a regular basis to lower your blood pressure, and even bring it back within the normal range.
While we’ve all heard the health benefits of a glass of red wine now and then, too much alcohol increases blood pressure, contributes to weight gain, and can cause you to make poor food choices.
For better health, women of any age and men over 65 should enjoy no more than one drink a day, and men under 65 should have no more than two.
There are no health benefits to smoking! Nicotine not only increases blood pressure and heart rate, it raises the risk of heart attack or stroke, and leads to narrowing and hardening of the arteries.
When dealing with high blood pressure readings, it's necessary to consult with your doctor to find proper ways to manage and prevent hypertension ( Image Reference).
Depending on your age, lifestyle, and blood pressure reading, your doctor may recommend medication as part of a treatment program for hypertension.
It is not clear if medication is beneficial for adults who have prehypertension alone. However, if you have another medical condition along with prehypertension, such as diabetes or kidney disease, your doctor may wish to prescribe blood pressure medication.
Those with stage 1 and stage 2 hypertension may be prescribed one or more of the following drugs:
While all the focus seems to be on high blood pressure, low blood pressure (hypotension) is also a potentially serious condition. In severe cases, it can cause shock - a life-threatening condition that occurs when the body isn’t receiving adequate blood flow.
A reading of less than 90 (systolic) or 60 (diastolic) can indicate low blood pressure, although this may vary from person to person. As a result, you may not experience any symptoms of hypotension even if your blood pressure readings indicate you have it. In cases like this, a doctor may or may not recommend interventions.
There are several possible causes of low blood pressure. To raise blood pressure to normal levels, it is important to find the root cause of your hypotension.
Possible causes include:
Low blood pressure can also be experienced when moving quickly to a standing position after sitting or lying down. Hypotension after meals (postprandial hypotension) is common in older adults.
If you have low blood pressure, you may experience:
Extreme cases of hypotension can result in shock - a life-threatening condition which requires emergency medical intervention. Shock is characterized by:
If your hypotension is just slightly below the healthy range and doesn’t cause you any symptoms, it is unlikely you need treatment.
Those who do experience symptoms may wish to:
Water is a staple in any healthy diet, but maintaining hydration and avoiding diuretics can help to increase low blood pressure ( Image Reference).
Drinking more water will help to raise blood volume and prevent dehydration. Steer clear of coffee, tea, and alcohol - which are diuretics - as these will contribute to dehydration.
A diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and lean protein sources like fish and beans is important for blood pressure and heart health. Avoid processed foods, trans fats, and red meat, and cut down on your intake of sugar and saturated fat.
As blood pressure tends to drop after eating, several smaller, low-carb meals spaced throughout the day may help ease symptoms. It can also be helpful to reduce your intake of high-carbohydrate foods like potatoes, white pasta, and white bread.
People with low blood pressure may actually benefit from a little extra dietary sodium, which can help to raise blood pressure.
However, it’s important to discuss this with your doctor first, because too much salt can cause heart failure, especially in older adults or those with underlying health conditions.
These stockings - which are often used to treat varicose veins - help those with hypotension by preventing blood from pooling in the legs.
Some medications are available to help those with hypotension - a doctor will be able to advise you of your options.
Hypotension which causes symptoms from quickly changing body positions can be remedied by slowing down and noticing how you move.
Be sure to gently move from a sitting position to a standing one. Before getting out of bed in the morning, practice some deep breathing exercises, and slowly move from a horizontal position to a sitting one, before gently standing upright.
If you notice symptoms while standing, encourage blood flow to the heart by crossing your legs and squeezing at the thighs.
Having blood pressure outside the normal range puts your health in jeopardy. If it’s too high, you’re at risk of serious medical conditions, including heart attacks and stroke. Blood pressure that’s too low can be life-threatening in severe cases.
Regardless, ALWAYSdiscuss readings and health conditions with your physician to ensure accurate results and the safest actions for your health.
Worryingly, you can have high blood pressure and not even know it - yet this silent condition is doing untold harm to your body. Knowing your numbers is the only way to find out for sure if your blood pressure readings fall within the optimal range, and making smart lifestyle choices is the only way to keep them there!
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