Blood Pressure : Advancements In Monitoring And Understanding Your Numbers

Understanding blood pressure readings is essential for your physician, your family, and especially for you. Your doctor can use these readings to help them diagnose a condition and develop an effective treatment plan. For those of you who have no one to guide you, it can be exceedingly difficult to understand the readings. However, technological advances over the last few years have made it easier and possible for you to monitor your blood pressure on your own with the help of a sophisticated blood pressure monitor and a wireless blood pressure monitor via computers, tablets, and other smart devices.

Today’s medical monitoring devices for monitoring blood pressure are far more sophisticated than they were just a few years ago. Monitoring equipment was simply meant to provide doctors with a means to take readings at specified times to help them diagnose conditions and come up with appropriate treatment plans. However, today’s monitors are highly accurate and can provide your doctor with up-to-the second information about your health without you having to provide a manual reading. For example, instead of the old mechanical arm monitor that took readings from your arm, today’s monitors are very accurate and are worn on your wrist or around your neck. A small transmitter in the bracelet or clip of the monitor then measures the electrical impulses from your body and sends this information back to the computer.

One of the main reasons why remote monitoring is important today is because today’s monitors allow you to get more detailed information about your health than was possible just a few years ago. Back in the early 1990s, blood pressure monitors used surface sensors that read the amount of blood flowing to the heart, and this was enough information to know if you were having a heart attack or not. However, with advancements in technology, blood pressure monitors can measure your pulse rate, your temperature and even your skin tone to give you a more complete picture of your health. With the additional information provided by these advanced monitors, your doctor is better able to diagnose your health problems and recommend the best course of treatment.

Now that you have a better understanding of the new monitoring technology, what do these numbers mean?

From the American Heart Association:



Blood pressure categories

The five blood pressure ranges as recognized by the American Heart Association are:



Blood pressure numbers of less than 120/80 mm Hg are considered within the normal range. If your results fall into this category, stick with heart-healthy habits like following a balanced diet and getting regular exercise.



Elevated blood pressure is when readings consistently range from 120-129 systolic and less than 80 mm Hg diastolic. People with elevated blood pressure are likely to develop high blood pressure unless steps are taken to control the condition.


Hypertension Stage 1

Hypertension Stage 1 is when blood pressure consistently ranges from 130-139 systolic or 80-89 mm Hg diastolic. At this stage of high blood pressure, doctors are likely to prescribe lifestyle changes and may consider adding blood pressure medication based on your risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD), such as heart attack or stroke.


Hypertension Stage 2

Hypertension Stage 2 is when blood pressure consistently ranges at 140/90 mm Hg or higher. At this stage of high blood pressure, doctors are likely to prescribe a combination of blood pressure medications and lifestyle changes.


Hypertensive crisis

This stage of high blood pressure requires medical attention. If your blood pressure readings suddenly exceed 180/120 mm Hg, wait five minutes and then test your blood pressure again. If your readings are still unusually high, contact your doctor immediately. You could be experiencing a hypertensive crisis.

If your blood pressure is higher than 180/120 mm Hg and you are experiencing signs of possible organ damage such as chest pain, shortness of breath, back pain, numbness/weakness, change in vision or difficulty speaking, do not wait to see if your pressure comes down on its own. Call 911.


Your blood pressure numbers and what they mean

Your blood pressure is recorded as two numbers:

Systolic blood pressure (the first number) – indicates how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls when the heart beats.

Diastolic blood pressure (the second number) – indicates how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls while the heart is resting between beats.

Which number is more important?

Typically, more attention is given to systolic blood pressure (the first number) as a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease for people over 50. In most people, systolic blood pressure rises steadily with age due to the increasing stiffness of large arteries, long-term buildup of plaque and an increased incidence of cardiac and vascular disease.

However, either an elevated systolic or an elevated diastolic blood pressure reading may be used to make a diagnosis of high blood pressure. According to recent studies, the risk of death from ischemic heart disease and stroke doubles with every 20 mm Hg systolic or 10 mm Hg diastolic increase among people from age 40 to 89.


Why blood pressure is measured in mm Hg

The abbreviation mm Hg means millimeters of mercury. Mercury was used in the first accurate pressure gauges and is still used in medicine today as the standard unit of measurement for pressure. Before you undergo a blood pressure reading, make sure you have prepared yourself mentally. First of all, you will probably be given some sort of a prescription for blood pressure monitors. Make sure you understand what these medications actually are and what the purpose of them are. In addition, you should know that sometimes you might be asked to come in a few days after your appointment to have your blood pressure taken. If you do not agree to this, ask to reschedule your visit.

While these steps might seem minimal at first, they will go a long way to ensuring that you are accurately monitoring your blood pressure and providing your doctor with valuable data to help him or her to diagnose your health problems. This information can also help you determine whether or not you need to make any lifestyle or diet changes in order to improve your health. As you get used to monitoring your blood pressure, you will find that you are actually quite accurate. You might actually need to learn a new trick or two along the way!

It is important to remember that even though an individual’s blood pressure may be high when they have an attack, it could still be too high for their particular situation. Don’t worry about making the numbers fit what you think they should be. The numbers are there for a reason; they are meant as estimates. As you become more educated about your body and health, you will find that the exact readings will vary from person to person. Keep practicing and learning, and in no time at all, you too will be able to read your blood pressure on your own!


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