Can your diastolic be higher than systolic?

Your blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or as pressure or force (systolic) over diastolic blood pressure (diastolic over systolic).

The terms are sometimes used interchangeably, but diastolic blood pressure is the more accurate term because it shows the difference between the heart’s two upper chambers (the atria) and lower chambers (the ventricles).

Systolic pressure is the measurement of the force exerted by the blood as it moves through your arteries. Diastolic pressure is the measurement of the force of blood as it moves through your heart.

Blood pressure is often measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). However, because the pressure of blood is expressed as force (systolic) or pressure (diastolic), it’s more common to use mm Hg. When the two measurements are the same, the results are considered to be the same.

The terms “high” and “low” are often used in everyday speech; however, they are not interchangeable.

What blood pressure is considered high?

The American Heart Association (AHA) defines high blood pressure as a systolic reading of 130 mm Hg or higher, or a diastolic reading of 80 mm Hg or higher.

Blood pressure measurements are taken when the person is at rest in a sitting or lying position, or when the person is standing and the legs are relaxed. The readings are based on at least two separate measurements.

What blood pressure is considered low?

The American Heart Association (AHA) defines low blood pressure as a systolic reading of 90 mm Hg or lower or a diastolic reading of 60 mm Hg or lower.

The AHA guidelines also note that a systolic reading of 120 mm Hg and a diastolic reading of 80 mm Hg indicates a high risk of stroke. These guidelines also say that a systolic reading of 140 mm Hg and a diastolic reading of 90 mm Hg is a sign of a heart attack.

Blood pressure readings are taken when the person is at rest in a sitting or lying position, or when the person is standing and the legs are relaxed.

What is the normal range for blood pressure?

The normal blood pressure range is 120/80 mm Hg (millimeters of mercury) or below. Blood pressure is considered normal if it’s lower than 120/80 mm Hg.

Blood pressure readings can vary depending on the person and the position they’re in. So, blood pressure readings can be higher or lower than normal.

For example, a person may have a systolic reading of 120 mm Hg but a diastolic reading of only 80 mm Hg. This would be considered a high blood pressure reading. However, this person may have a reading of 120/75 mm Hg, which would be considered a normal blood pressure reading.

What are the symptoms of high blood pressure?

The symptoms of high blood pressure depend on the person’s individual symptoms and the severity of the blood pressure.

For example, a person with high blood pressure who has shortness of breath may have symptoms like:

  • A tight feeling in the chest
  • Shortness of breath
  • A rapid or fluttering heartbeat

High blood pressure can also cause:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Fainting

Symptoms of low blood pressure include:

  • Headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Tiredness
  • Chest pain

How is high blood pressure diagnosed?

If your doctor suspects that you have high blood pressure, they’ll take your medical history, perform a physical exam, and order blood tests.

Blood pressure is measured by a device called a blood pressure monitor. It’s usually placed on the upper arm and can be worn for 24 hours.

To get an accurate reading, a healthcare professional should be in the room when your blood pressure is taken.

The AHA recommends that a person with high blood pressure should have their blood pressure checked at least twice a year.

How is high blood pressure treated?

If you have high blood pressure, your doctor may prescribe a medication to control your blood pressure.

They may also suggest lifestyle changes, such as:

  • Losing weight if you’re overweight
  • Following a heart-healthy diet
  • Getting regular exercise
  • Reducing stress

In some cases, a doctor may recommend medication to treat underlying conditions that cause high blood pressure.

What is the prognosis for people with high blood pressure?

If you have high blood pressure, you have a higher risk for developing other health problems, such as:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Kidney disease
  • Eye disease
  • Sleep apnea

If left untreated, high blood pressure can cause complications, such as:

  • Heart attack
  • Death

People who’ve had several heart attacks and stroke survivors are at an even higher risk for heart-related problems.

However, the benefits of treating high blood pressure far outweigh any possible side effects.

What’s the link between high blood pressure and stroke?

While high blood pressure is associated with stroke, there are other risk factors for stroke.

Risk factors for stroke include:

  • Diabetes
  • Atherosclerosis
  • High cholesterol
  • Smoking
  • A family history of stroke
  • Heavy drinking
  • High blood pressure
  • Low levels of physical activity
  • High levels of stress

Stroke-related deaths are usually caused by blockages in the blood vessels or blood clots.

A stroke is an emergency. If you experience any of the following symptoms, get medical help immediately:

  • Confusion
  • Feeling lightheaded or faint
  • Weakness
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Sudden vision changes or loss of vision
  • Difficulty walking

Living with high blood pressure

In addition to being diagnosed with high blood pressure, there are many lifestyle changes you can make to help lower your risk for future health problems.

These lifestyle changes include:

  • Eating a heart-healthy diet.
  • Quitting smoking.
  • Losing weight if you’re obese.
  • Getting regular exercise.
  • Reducing stress.

The takeaway

High blood pressure can cause a range of symptoms. If you have high blood pressure, talk to your doctor about your symptoms.

If you have high blood pressure, you’re at an increased risk for heart-related problems.

A healthy diet and regular exercise can help lower your blood pressure and lower your risk of future health problems.

The best way to treat high blood pressure and its associated health problems is to make lifestyle changes.

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