So you want to know what your normal blood pressure reading is. The next time you visit the
doctor, you ask the nurse’s aide to tell you. That is after she finishes putting the cuff on your arm,
pumping it until you think your arm is going to explode, and then she rattles off a number…
124/86. Well, that is fine, but what does that mean?
A blood pressure reading measures the pumping action of the heart. The first number is a reading
of the systolic pressure, or the pressure exerted by your heart to pump oxygenated blood into the
aorta, the largest blood vessel in the body. This vessel branches off into other, smaller vessels
that oxygenate every organ, tissue and cell in your body. The bottom number, a diastolic
pressure, reads your heart at rest, or between beats.
Blood pressure readings for healthy individuals will usually range around120/80. Some people
may have varying numbers like 124/82 or 126/84 or so. You always get your blood pressure
reading in even numbers, but if someone does give you a reading with an odd number, just round
up to keep things simple. Keep in mind that your age, weight, exercise level and diet may also
have much to do with a blood pressure reading. Some people who exercise a lot and are healthy
have blood pressures hovering around 110 over 70, and that is normal, for them. The same goes
if the numbers are a little higher.
However, a normal blood pressure reading becomes a high blood pressure reading when those
numbers reach around 140/90 or so. There are several different levels typical to high blood
pressure, or hypertension, so speak to your doctor if your levels are over the 126/86 ranges.
It is difficult to pinpoint a single cause for high blood pressure, as many factors usually coincide
to produce the condition. For some, high blood pressure is inherited, and African-Americans
suffer more from high blood pressure, or hypertension, than Caucasians. Medical issues may also
cause a rise in a normal blood pressure reading, so it is a good idea to have your pressure checked
at least periodically. Nearly 65 million Americans suffer from high blood pressure, and countless
others who have not been diagnosed are walking around with the condition without even
As people age, high blood pressure becomes more prevalent. However, preserving a healthy
weight, exercising regularly and eating a well-balanced diet will help to prevent high blood
pressure. Stay away from excess salt, alcohol and high fat diets, and if you smoke, try to quit.
Studies have shown that certain medications may cause high blood pressure, so speak to your
doctor about risks if you are taking certain prescription drugs.
A normal blood pressure reading may not seem like a big deal to many people, but as we grow
older, it may mean the difference between a healthy, active lifestyle, or sitting your later years out
on the bench. Take an active part in your health, especially heart health, and your body, and your
family and friends, will thank you for it.