Most physicians agree that a healthy blood pressure reading is in the area of 120 systolic and 80 diastolic. The systolic reading measures arterial pressure when the heart beats, and the diastolic is a measurement of pressure between beats. A healthy blood pressure range might vary slightly and still be considered healthy when factored against a person's age. For instance, elderly people sometimes have slightly lower blood pressure than younger individuals.
Keeping blood pressure levels healthy and normal can be crucial to overall health, because abnormal blood pressure levels — no matter whether they are too high or too low — can be a life-threatening condition. Blood pressure that is too high, also known as hypertension, is known to be a relatively common condition. Low blood pressure, or hypotension, is considered more rare. People who have high blood pressure can run a greater chance of heart attack or stroke. Low blood pressure can eventually cause organ damage, dizziness and fainting.
Statistics seem to indicate that more than 75 million individuals in North America are afflicted with high blood pressure. Experts in the field generally agree that many of these cases might be prevented by a few changes in lifestyle. Diet seems to play an important role, as does exercise. Eating foods that are low in fat and high in fiber might help promote healthy blood pressure. In addition, individuals who are more sedentary might be at higher risk, so getting a fair amount of daily exercise might help reduce the risk of high blood pressure.
Many doctors refer to high blood pressure as the "silent killer" because symptoms are often absent. For this reason, many people choose to monitor their own levels as a routine part of their health regimen. Most drug stores sell electronic devices for monitoring blood pressure levels. These devices can make it simpler for most people to check their readings without a doctor's assistance. In addition, local health offices might offer the service free of charge or at reduced rates.
When symptoms of high blood pressure are present, they might include difficulty breathing, stomach upset, dizziness and vertigo. Low blood pressure symptoms typically are fainting, dizziness or tightness in the chest. Diuretics and beta-blockers generally are the most commonly prescribed medications for the condition. Diuretics can help reduce sodium levels, and beta-blockers can slow the circulatory system. Both of these effects can potentially help maintain healthy blood pressure levels.