House Call: Blood Pressure Part 4

Published: Mar. 1, 2021 at 5:08 PM EST
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Your blood pressure numbers do not have to be a mystery. However, your numbers are critical to your heart health and regular monitoring, which can help you reduce your risk of a heart attack or stroke.

1). When it comes to blood pressure, 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.

2). Something that I have always wondered is what the measurement of blood pressure means with the results you record?

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.

It is important to understand your results, as it is key to controlling high blood pressure. You want to learn what is considered normal, as recommended by the American Heart Association. You can see what the various levels of blood pressure are with the handy graph on your screen. This is something you want to refer to often and you can find this chart by going to

3). Taking your pulse versus checking your blood pressure, do these health measurements indicate the same problem or a different issue?

While both are indications of health, blood pressure and heart rate (pulse) are two separate measurements.

Your blood pressure is the force of your blood moving through your blood vessels, your heart rate is the number of times your heart beats per minute.

· These are two separate measurements and indicators of health. · For people with high blood pressure (HBP or hypertension), there is no substitute for measuring blood pressure.

A rising heart rate does not cause your blood pressure to increase at the same rate. Even though your heart is beating more times a minute, healthy blood vessels dilate (get larger) to allow more blood to flow through more easily. When you exercise, your heart speeds up so more blood can reach your muscles. It may be possible for your heart rate to double safely, while your blood pressure may respond by only increasing a modest amount.

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