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How to Interprete Your Blood Pressure Readings

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Get important info on high blood Pressure

You certainly want to get more knowledgeable about high blood pressure, because it's very much in your interest to do so. That is still so, even if you haven't been diagonised with high blood pressure. And if you are aleady a victim, it becomes even more urgent. High blood pressure affecta a large section of the society and many more people are falling prey, all the time. Because it's a health condition that could prove very harmful, understanding various important issues about it becomes a compelling need.

Why You Should Know
Part of the knowledge that should interest you about high blood pressure relates to how to interprete the blood pressure readings. If your blood pressure is measured at the hospital by the medical personnel, you probably wouldn't care too much about the interpretation of the reading. The health officer would do the evaluation and determine whether or not your blood pressure is in a comfortable range or not. However, since self-monitoring has become an advocated further protection, the individual who monitors his/her BP has to understand what the readings are saying.

Using a BP Monitor Properly
First, you need to know how to operate a blood pressure monitor that you have acquired. Manufacturers usually include a manual in the product package. It's important to use your monitor properly, as prescribed by the manufacturer, because that is vital for accurate measurement. Getting an accurate result from your blood pressure monitor is a fundamentally requirement since it makes nonsense of blood pressure measurement if the process fails to yield accurate results. That is why it is important to buy a monitor with proven performance. An easy way to establish that proof of performance is by checking for blood pressure monitors that are clinically validated by an authoritative, independent organisation, like the British Hypertension society. To know more about clinical validation of BP monitors by the British Hypertension Society, go here. For a list of validated monitors, see BHS list here.

Getting Your Readings
Your digital BP monitor makes reading the results pretty easy: It displays plain figures of your results. Your blood pressure is stated in two numbers: the systolic and diastolic BP readings. The systolic BP states the pressure exerted when the heart contracts to pump out blood, while the diasolic BP represents the pressure when the heart relaxes after pumping. Those rythyms continue endlessly. Your full BP reading is therefore stated as two figures, for example 120/80. The first (or upper) figure is the systolic blood pressure (SBP), while the second (lower) figure is the diastolic blood pressure (DBP). Those figures are in millimeters of mecury (mmHG). Most digital BP monitors will state the as upper and lower, while some monitors will add a third reading, your pulse rate.

Interpreting Readings
Once you have a good quailty blood pressure monitor and can use it effectively, of major importance will be how to make sense out of the readings from your measurements. Fortunately, some internationally accepted blood pressure classifications are available to provide a guide.

An important and widely used blood pressure classification was developed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Society of Hypertension (IHS). WHO/IHS Blood Pressure Chart That chart identifies six bands of blood pressure classi- fication: optimal blood pressure, normal blood pressure, normal systolic value, mild hypertension, moderate hypertension and severe hypertenion.

The optimal blood pressure, in deep green color in the chart here, is the ideal and is the range up to 120/80. You are however comfortable, by this classification, if your BP is above this range but within 130/85, categorised as normal BP. If you move up into the thrid range, up to 140/90, the WHO/IHS classification views you as in normal systolic value BP. You will appreciate, though, that this is already becoming a problem. Above that level and up to 160/100 is classified as mild hypertension, tending towards danger, as the color shows.. Range above this and up 180/110 becomes moderate hypertension. Finally, the severe range, which is anything above 180/100, is understandably in deep red color. In effect, each time you take your blood pressure readings, you can related it to this chart to see where you stand. However, it should be stated that it would be misleading to gloss over the mild or moderate categories, as those levels already pose significant health risk.

Another classification of blood pressure readings, not much different from the WHO/IHS adopted one, is from the US Joint National Committee on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure. It classifies into four stages: normal, prehypertension, stage 1 hypertension and stage 11 hypertension.

Category Systolic - mmHG Diastolic - mmHG
Normal BP Less than 120 Less than 80
Prehypertension 120 - 139 80 - 89
Stage 1 Hypertension 140 - 159 90 - 99
Stage 2 Hypertension 160 or higher 100 or higher

Both classifications agree that blood pressure levels above 140 SBP and 90 DBP should be categorised as hypertensive. In effect, you should do all that is possible to work your blood pressure down to a level below 140/90. ideally, you should aim for a level much lower. When it gets above 140/90, you should know that you have a problem to solve and that's the diference with the person that does not monitor his/her BP level. While you should see your doctor quickly to get some help, the person that is unaware of his/her elevated BP level will go about his normal business, believing that all is well, yet suffering the gradual decimation.

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