Blood Pressure by the Numbers

| Posted On Sep 10, 2015 | By:

BP by the numbers119/79, 120/80, 140/90. No, these aren’t the winning lotto numbers, but they are numbers you should remember. They are key in understanding your blood pressure reading and they represent very real and very important facts about your health.

Blood pressure, by definition, measures the force pushing outwards on your arterial walls. As your heart pumps blood throughout the body, it pushes the blood up against the walls of the blood vessels; this is known as ‘blood pressure.’ This process is crucial as it helps move blood to every part of your body. Healthy blood vessels are more elastic–able to stretch to allow more of the oxygen rich blood to move throughout the body.  It’s important to routinely check your blood pressure to ensure that it is not too high and causing the vessels to stretch beyond their limit.

For most people, a healthy range is usually below 120/80. The first number (120), known as systolic pressure, measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats. The second number (80), known as the diastolic pressure, measures the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats, when the heart is resting.

Understanding Blood Pressure Readings

While both numbers are important, the first number (systolic number) can help predict and prevent cardiovascular disease. As the number increases, so do the health risks. And while your blood pressure changes from minute to minute, rising with each heartbeat and falling when the heart relaxes between beats, it is still important to maintain a consistent reading below 120/80.

So what if your blood pressure reading doesn’t fall under 120/80?


While it’s true that decreasing your stress level helps lower your blood pressure, one high reading does not necessarily mean that you have high blood pressure. If your readings consistently remain above the 120/80 mark you and your doctor should discuss ways to lower and control it.

Here are some simple ways to maintain or lower your blood pressure;

As there are no warning signs for high blood pressure, it’s crucial to have your blood pressure routinely monitored and talk to your doctor about any concerns. If you have been diagnosed with hypertension, talk to your doctor about what your goal blood pressure should be, since this can depend upon your age and other medical conditions.

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About Dr. Jahansouz Shokri

Dr. Jahansouz Shokri joined Harvard Vanguard in 2007 as an internist at our Watertown practice. He is board certified in internal medicine. He received his medical degree from Universitatea de Medicina si Farmacia Din Timisoara in Timisoara, Romania, completed his internship and residency at Forest Park Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri and completed a fellowship at VA Medical Center in St. Louis, Missouri. He is passionate about teaching, practices evidence based medicine and is a Clinical Instructor at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Shokri enjoys history, travel and music.

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