Understanding Blood Pressure Reading
When the nurse wraps the cuff around your upper arm and then announces two seemingly random numbers, what’s going on? Two forces pump the blood through our bodies, the first being created by the heart contracts and pumps blood out into the arteries, and the second occurs when the heart rests between beats and the heart muscle is refilling with blood. These two forces are known as systole and diastole respectively, and are the numbers you see on a blood pressure reading. The systolic pressure is the top number (or the first one read) and is the higher number, and the second number is diastolic, and is the lower number. So the next time you get your blood pressure read, remember the first number is referring the force of blood being pumped away, and the second number is the heart at rest refilling with blood. The systolic number should be less than 120, while the diastolic number should be less than 80. Anything higher and you enter pre-hypertension and hypertension.