Before understanding what is a good blood pressure reading, it is vital to understand what a BP reading is. Blood is pumped from the heart to the systemic circulation, which is carried to all parts of the body in vessels called arteries.
Arterial BP is a measure of the pressure exerted by the blood as it flows through the arteries. Because the blood moves in waves, there are two BP measures: the systolic and the diastolic.
The systolic BP is the pressure of the blood as a result of contraction of the ventricles of the heart. The diastolic BP on the other hand is the pressure when the ventricles are at rest.
Therefore, the diastolic BP is lower than the systolic. An ideal blood pressure range is a systolic pressure of 30 to 40 mmHg higher than the diastolic.
A normal blood pressure reading depends on certain physiologic variables that are happening in the body 24 hours a day. BP changes, during sleep, our BP is at its lowest while in the day, readings are the highest.
As our body rests, the arteries relax thereby decreasing the pressure inside. During the day when we are active, the arteries respond through vasoconstriction, which increases the pressure inside. It is likened to water passing through a hose. When the hose is slightly obstructed inside, the pressure of water that comes out is faster and stronger.
What is considered good blood pressure is also affected by the positioning of the body. When a person is standing, the BP is higher because the heart has to pump harder in order for the blood to reach the upper part of the body, such as the head, since the pull of gravity affects it going up.
In contrast, BP is at a neutral range when a person lies down because the heart does not need to pump stronger. BP when sitting is slightly similar to a standing position. So it is always better take the BP in all these positions to determine any significant change.
Given all those factors, what is a good blood pressure chart for men and women then?
|Pre-Hypertension (High normal)||120-139||80-89|
|Stage 1 (Mild hypertension)||140-159||90-99|
|Stage 2 (Moderate hypertension)||160 or higher||100 or higher|
|Stage 3 (Severe hypertension)||180 or higher||110 or higher|
The readings above are considered the standards for an adult; however, these readings may be 5-10 mmHg higher for the elderly because of a decrease in elasticity in their arteries as a result of aging or arteriosclerosis.
Before asking a physician what is a good blood pressure reading, it is important to divulge any medical history that can affect the BP such as age, medications and activity.