The first thing most medical professionals do during an exam is put a cuff on your upper arm. As this cuff fills with air, it temporarily stops blood flow in the brachial artery. When air is released and blood flow resumes, our provider will listen closely for your heart beat. Sometimes, this is completed entirely by a machine.
The top number (systolic) indicates the level of pressure in arterial walls during heart beats. Your bottom number (diastolic) shows how much pressure goes against arterial walls while your heart rests. Healthy blood pressure is below 120/80 mmHg.
When your heart beats, it pushes blood throughout your body. This process is essential for getting nutrients and oxygen to every single cell. Blood travels through and presses against the walls of vessels, veins, and arteries. Pressure, or force, is certainly necessary to keep things moving, but blood pressure that is too high, can increase your risk of suffering from:
In general, having blood pressure of 140/90 or greater is considered high. But even before then, when your numbers start going over 120/80 and up to 139/89, our provider will keep an eye on you. These levels indicate prehypertension and while you don’t currently have high blood pressure, you’re highly likely to develop it in the future.
If your blood pressure is high one of our providers will probably prescribe a medication. But pills aren’t a cure-all, rather you need to make some lifestyle changes, too. One of our providers will counsel you on blood pressure-lowering tips, including:
These lifestyle changes may also help you get off of the medication if your body no longer needs them to help regulate your pressure.
Yes. It’s also possible for your blood pressure to be too low (hypotension), meaning that blood isn’t getting pumped around as quickly as it should. For healthy adults, blood pressure well below 120/80 isn’t a concern, as long as you’re not having any symptoms. In elderly adults though, lower-than-normal blood pressure can be a warning sign of poor blood flow to vital organs, like the heart and brain.