High blood pressure, also called hypertension, occurs when the pressure inside your arteries is higher than it should be. Blood pressure is measured as two numbers.
- The first or top number is called “systolic” pressure, which represents the pressure when the heart is pumping in full force.
- The second or bottom number is called “diastolic” pressure and is the pressure when your heart is relaxing between beats.
So as an example, when someone says their pressure is 120/80, the systolic is the number “120” and the diastolic is the number “80.” The goal for anyone with high blood pressure is to keep the majority of the blood pressure readings below 140/90.
Monitoring Your Blood Pressure
Blood pressure can change in individuals based on age, activity level, diet and weight, so it is important for you to monitor your blood pressure if you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure and to be sure that it stays under control. We recommend that patients with high blood pressure take at least one blood pressure reading per week (at various times of the day) and to keep this information in a log that you bring with you to the doctor. Writing this down in a log can be tough to remember, and most patients find it difficult to maintain. In addition, all of the the blood pressure readings that you record will generally not make it into your medical record. Today however, there are easier and more advanced ways to accomplish this using a blood pressure cuff that sends all the results directly to your medical record for your healthcare team to see. This is the method we utilize and recommend in our treatment program.
Controlling Your Blood Pressure
Your blood pressure should average below 140/90 to be considered under control. The good news is, almost everyone with high blood pressure can get their blood pressure under control using a combination of medication and a healthier lifestyle. The sad news however, is that only about half of individuals diagnosed with high blood pressure achieve control, thus exposing them to a higher risk of heart attack, stroke, heart failure, as well as kidney and eye disease. Getting your blood pressure below 140/90 will reduce your risk of developing any of these conditions and lead to a healthier, higher quality life.