High blood pressure is a risk factor for heart disease. Therefore, blood pressure is a common concern. When people get their blood pressure checked, they may wonder what is a normal blood pressure range and if their blood pressure falls within that range. The numbers can be confusing if the person does not understand the basics of a blood pressure reading.
A person’s blood pressure includes two numbers, the systolic and diastolic blood pressure. The systolic blood pressure is the first number given when told what the blood pressure is. The systolic pressure is the measure of blood pressure when the heart beats. The diastolic pressure is the measure of blood pressure between heartbeats.
A blood pressure reading is often said to be normal if the systolic blood pressure is under 120 and the diastolic pressure is under 80. In some cases, blood pressure can be too low. There is no universally-accepted standard measure of what constitutes low blood pressure. This is because people often have lower than normal blood pressure without having any adverse effects. Without medical problems due to low blood pressure, the low blood pressure is considered to be normal or at least not pathological.
If the blood pressure is slightly high, the blood pressure may be considered pre-hypertension. Pre-hypertensive blood pressure is 120 to 139 over 80 to 89. Stage one hypertension may be diagnosed if the 140 to 159 over 90 to 99. Blood pressure that indicates stage two hypertension has a systolic reading greater than 160 or a diastolic blood pressure greater than 100. Extremely high blood pressure that is called a hypertensive crisis has a systolic pressure of over 180 or a diastolic blood pressure of over 110.
Many things can affect blood pressure readings. A person with normal blood pressure may have a higher than normal reading if the person is emotionally upset or is taking medication that can increase blood pressure. If a person has had normal blood pressure and has one abnormally high blood pressure reading, the doctor may want to see the person again before beginning treatment.
If a person has pre-hypertension or blood pressure that is slightly higher than normal, the physician may have the patient change their diet and exercise regularly before prescribing medication. The physician may decide to prescribe medication for even slightly elevated blood pressure if the patient has other risk factors for heart disease. Extremely high blood pressure that indicates a hypertensive crisis is a medical emergency.