What Do Blood Pressure Numbers Mean?

health care awareness

We hear this every time we visit the doctor. OK, Mr. Smith, your blood pressure is 120 over 75. Or, Mrs. Jones, your blood pressure is 118 over 82. And so on. But have you ever wondered what exactly those numbers really mean? And what does that mean to your overall health?

It’s something all medical providers must know. It’s something taught to all of our Concorde students, especially those in Nursing and Medical Assistant programs. Really, all of us should have this bit of health care awareness, especially as we approach our elder years.

We here at Concorde are here to help … and provide answers. We did bit of research and sought out the help of one of our Medical Assistant program directors. Read on and gain a bit of health care awareness yourself … information that could help save your life one day.

Health care awareness about what the numbers mean

“Blood pressure numbers represent your heart’s health,” said Hanna Hodges, BS, NCMA, MA/MOA Program Director at Concorde’s campus in San Antonio, Texas.

Hodges said the first, or top, number represents systolic pressure. That’s the amount of pressure inside your arteries when your heart muscle contracts. The second, or bottom, number is diastolic. That is the pressure in your arteries between heart beats.

“These two numbers together show your provider a picture of how well the blood and oxygen are moving through the heart and can even help predict possible health complications,” Hodges said. “Having a healthy lifestyle and regular exercise will help your blood pressure stay at a normal range.”

More health care awareness behind the numbers

The U.S. government’s Food and Drug Administration states that blood pressure usually varies throughout the day. For adults, a blood pressure reading of lower than 120/80 is considered normal. Readings between 120/80 and 139/89 are considered pre-hypertension. People with pre-hypertension do not have blood pressure as low as it should be, but are not yet considered to have high blood pressure.

Your doctor might tell you that you have high blood pressure if you have two measurements of blood pressure readings, on physician office visits at least one week apart, that are higher than 140/90.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has issued guidelines that state people with blood pressure lower than 120/80 should be screened every two years. Your doctor might determine that your blood pressure should be screened more frequently.

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