February 22, 2017

High Blood Pressure – What Exactly Does That Mean?

By Michael Romig, DO
Asheville Cardiology Associates – Hendersonville

When it comes to your blood pressure, do you really know what that means? Educating yourself on blood pressure is important because is attributes to more than 360,000 American deaths each year. In fact, high blood pressure is quite common, with more than 3 million cases per year reported.

Understanding blood pressure isn’t easy, especially when words like “systolic,” “diastolic,” and “millimeters of mercury” (mm Hg) are involved. Systolic measures the pressure in arteries when the heart beats, or contracts. Diastolic pressure measures the pressure between heart beats when the heart relaxes. Understanding what this means empowers you to take control of your heart health.

It’s quite normal for blood pressure to vary from person to person. According to the American Heart Association, a healthy blood pressure is 120-or-less over 80-or-less. High blood pressure is any reading of more than 160 over 100, and any readings this high or higher should be treated by a physician. Anyone with a reading of more than 180 over 170 should seek emergency care.

Managing blood pressure is important, and exercise is just one way to help keep it under control. Avoiding sodium and eating a healthy diet are other ways to lower blood pressure numbers.

Watch Dr. Romig discuss the impact of high blood pressure during a recent Facebook Live

How healthy is your heart? Take our Heart Health Quiz online at missionhealth.org/heart.

Thank you, western North Carolina for participating in Heart Month! We hope you learned many ways to #KeepTheBeat.