You know the drill. You walk into the doctor’s office, they take your height, weight, temperature and blood pressure (BP). You get your BP number, but what exactly does that number mean?

How to Understand Your Blood Pressure Reading

The top number, or your systolic BP, is the pressure in the arteries when your heart muscle contracts. The bottom number, or diastolic BP, is the pressure in the arteries when the heart muscle is relaxed between beats. Regular exercise and a healthy diet can help maintain a healthy blood pressure.

Is My Blood Pressure healthy?

Blood Pressure Categories

The most recent blood pressure guidelines break it down into normal, elevated, hypertension stage 1, hypertension stage 2, and hypertensive crisis.  This is a change from previous guidelines. It is based on the most recent research, with the goal of addressing hypertension early to prevent long-term effects like heart disease and stroke.

In stage 1 hypertension, it may or may not require medication. In this stage, depending on associated risk factors, we can work on healthy lifestyle changes first to try to manage BP without medication. In stage 2 and hypertensive crisis, medication is recommended to decrease risk of complications of uncontrolled hypertension.

How to Check Your BP at Home

  • Select a monitor that fits properly around your upper arm
  • Avoid caffeine or alcohol 30 minutes beforehand
  • Sit quietly and relaxed for five minutes with your legs uncrossed and your back supported
  • Apply cuff on bare skin
  • Don’t talk while measuring BP
  • Keep a record of your BP readings, including the time of day

If you are concerned or have elevated blood pressure, you can call our office to set up an appointment today.

~ Kyla Conway, PA-C