Moonlighting at the RVNA Health Fair, Theresa Santoro, MSN, RN, President and CEO (at right), administered over 80 blood pressure (BP) screenings to attendees. As she observed, “It was very satisfying to see people so invested in their health and truly curious about what their numbers mean.”
Which begs the question, what do those numbers mean anyway?
Blood pressure is recorded as two numbers, XX over YY. The first number, XX, is your systolic blood pressure. It indicates how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls when your heart beats. The second number, YY, is your diastolic blood pressure. It indicates how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls while your heart is resting between beats.
In “normal” blood pressure, the first number is less than 120 and the second number is less than 80. Numbers above these indicate ‘elevated’ or high blood pressure, depending on how high they are. Numbers below indicate low blood pressure.
It’s important to monitor your blood pressure regularly because high blood pressure typically has no obvious symptoms, yet it has clear risks. Namely, it causes damage to your circulatory system that is a significant contributing factor to heart attack, stroke and other health threats.