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I. Introduction

A. The importance of knowing your blood pressure numbers

B. Overview of systolic vs. diastolic blood pressure

II. What is Blood Pressure?

A. Definition

B. How it’s measured

C. What do the numbers mean?

III. Systolic Blood Pressure

A. Definition of systolic

B. What the systolic number means

C. Normal range

D. Too high or too low readings

IV. Diastolic Blood Pressure

A. Definition of diastolic

B. What the diastolic number means

C. Normal range

D. Too high or too low readings

V. The Difference Between Systolic and Diastolic

A. Comparing definitions

B. Explaining the difference

C. Examples to illustrate

VI. Understanding Blood Pressure Readings

A. Putting systolic and diastolic together

B. Optimal blood pressure goal

C. Hypertensive categories based on readings

VII. Lifestyle Tips to Improve Blood Pressure

A. Diet

B. Exercise

C. Stress management

D. Other tips

VIII. FAQ About Blood Pressure

IX. Conclusion

A. Summary

B. Key Takeaway Points


Blood pressure is one of the key vital signs that provide important information about the health of your

heart and circulatory system. It consists of the reading of two numbers – the systolic pressure and the diastolic

pressure. It is important to monitor both numbers regularly as they indicate your risk for different


cardiovascular diseases. Understanding what systolic and diastolic blood pressure mean can help you discuss

your results with your doctor and make lifestyle changes to optimize your heart health if needed.

Blood Pressure being taken in left arm
Credit: UMMS Creative Services
Blood Pressure being taken

In this article, we will clearly explain the difference


between systolic and diastolic blood pressure. You’ll

learn the definitions of each, their normal ranges,

and what the numbers mean for your health. We will


also provide tips to improve your blood pressure

naturally, along with a FAQ section to answer common questions .  Lets ge started    understanding the meaning 

 behind those two important numbers!

What is Blood Pressure?


Blood pressure is the force exerted by blood against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps it around

the body. It results from a combination of the cardiac output of the heart and the resistance to blood flow in

the arteries. (Understanding Blood Pressure Readings, 2023)


Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmhg) and is recorded as two numbers – the systolic

pressure over the diastolic pressure. For example, a blood pressure reading of 120/80 mmHg is considered

within the normal range.

The systolic reading, or the top number, represents the maximum pressure in the arteries when the heart


contracts and pumps blood. The diastolic reading, or bottom number, represents the minimum pressure in

the arteries when the heart relaxes between beats. Understanding the meaning of these two numbers that

make up your blood pressure reading is key to maintaining cardiovascular health.


You can read our article on How To Naturally Lower Your Blood Pressure Here:



Systolic Blood Pressure


The systolic blood pressure specifically refers to the pressure within the arteries as the heart contracts and

pumps oxygenated blood out into the body.

The systolic reading indicates how much force your blood exerts against artery walls when the heart beats. If


the pressure is too high, it means the heart is working harder than normal to pump blood.

Normal systolic blood pressure is below 120 mmHg. A reading between 120-129 mmHg is elevated, 130-139

mmHg is stage 1 hypertension, and anything 140 mmHg or above is considered stage 2 hypertension.

Having chronically elevated systolic blood pressure (130 mmHg or higher) significantly increases your risk for

health problems such as:

Low systolic pressure below 90 mmHg can sometimes indicate an underlying medical condition causing low blood

volume or heart function

abnormalities. Symptoms like dizziness upon standing may accompany low systolic pressure.

Diastolic Blood Pressure


The diastolic blood pressure refers to the pressure within the arteries when the heart rests between beats. This

bottom number represents the minimum blood pressure as the heart fills with blood before contracting again.

Diastolic pressure indicates the baseline resistance to blood flow in the circulatory system when the heart is

relaxed. If the diastolic pressure gets too high for a prolonged period, it can put added strain on arterial walls and organs.

Normal diastolic blood pressure is less than 80 mmHg. A reading between 80-89 mmHg is slightly elevated,

90-99 mmHg is stage 1 hypertension, and anything 100 mmHg or above is considered stage 2 hypertension.

Having consistently high diastolic pressure over 90 mmHg can increase your risk for:

An abnormally low diastolic pressure under 60 mmHg can sometimes

be a sign of underlying heart or health issues that require evaluation.

The Difference Between Systolic and Diastolic


Now that we’ve defined systolic and diastolic blood pressure individually, let’s compare them directly:

  • Systolic pressure occurs when the heart is contracting and pumping blood. Diastolic occurs when the
  • heart refills with blood between beats.
  • Systolic measures peak pressure. Diastolic measures minimum baseline pressure.
  • 140/90 mmHg means a systolic pressure of 140 and a diastolic pressure of 90. The systolic is highlighted first.
  • High systolic pressure indicates the heart is working too hard. High diastolic pressure indicates resistance in the circulatory system.
  • Elevated systolic pressure poses a higher heart attack and stroke risk. Elevated diastolic impacts artery and kidney health more.
  • The ideal systolic is under 120 mmHg. The ideal diastolic is under 80 mmHg for most adults.

In summary, systolic blood pressure reflects the pressure generated when the heart contracts and pumps,

while the diastolic blood pressure represents the resting phase between heartbeats as it refills with blood.

Having optimal numbers for both is important for ideal heart health.

Understanding Blood Pressure Readings


Now that you understand the difference between systolic and diastolic blood pressure, let’s go over how to

interpret your overall blood pressure reading:

The two systolic and diastolic numbers are written as a ratio, with the systolic number on top and the diastolic

on bottom. For example:

117/76 mmHg The optimal blood pressure reading for most healthy adults is below 120/80 mmHg. If the

reading is consistently above that level, it is considered elevated or hypertensive.

Blood pressure classifications:

  • Normal: Less than 120/80 mmHg

    Normal Blood Pressure reading: 120/80

  • Elevated: Top number 120-129 and bottom less than 80
  • Hypertension stage 1: Top number 130-139 or bottom 80-89 mmHg
  • Hypertension stage 2: Top number 140 or higher or bottom number 90 or higher mmHg
  • Hypertensive crisis: Top number over 180 and/or bottom over 120 mmHg

The higher the blood pressure, the greater the health risks. That’s why it’s important to maintain blood pressure in a

healthy range through lifestyle strategies and medication if prescribed. Monitoring both your systolic AND diastolic numbers is key.

Lifestyle Tips to Improve Blood Pressure


Here are some natural ways to optimize your blood pressure if it’s high:

Diet – Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. Limit sodium, saturated fat, sugars, and


Healthy Diet: Apples, Carrots, Onions, Oranges, and blueberries
Healthy Diet: Apples, Carrots, Onions, Oranges, and blueberries

Exercise – Get regular aerobic activity. Aim for 30-60 minutes most days.

Weight – Maintain a healthy body weight. Losing just 10 lbs can lower blood


Stress – Manage stress through yoga, meditation, massage, or other relaxation


Gentleman undergoing stress
Credit:Getty Images Plus

Smoking – Quit smoking to improve blood

pressure and heart health. 

Supplements – Potassium, magnesium,

calcium, omega-3s, and coenzyme Q10 may

help lower blood pressure. Consult your



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Medication – If lifestyle changes are not enough, blood pressure medication may be prescribed.

Take it as directed.

Stethoscope, Blood Pressure Medication, and sphygmomanometer
Credit: TEK IMAGE/Getty Images
Stethoscope, Blood Pressure Medication, and sphygmomanometer

Monitoring – Check your blood pressure regularly at

home and track both numbers.

Making healthy lifestyle modifications can help control elevated systolic and diastolic blood

pressures. But medication may also be needed for those with stage 2

hypertension or higher.


FAQ And Answers

Q: What is too low for blood pressure?

A: Generally, a systolic pressure below 90 or diastolic pressure below 60 mmHg is considered too low.

Q: How often should I check my  blood pressure?

A: adults should get at least an annual blood pressure check, and more frequently if they have hypertension or

are at high risk. Checking at home can also help track blood pressure between doctor visits. Consult your

physician about the right frequency for you. 

Q: What are the symptoms of high blood pressure?

A: Most people have no symptoms. Some may experience headaches, shortness of breath, nosebleeds, or dizziness.

Q: What number is more important – systolic or diastolic?

A: Both numbers are important to monitor for a complete picture of your blood pressure and heart health.

Q: How can I lower my blood pressure fast?

A: Reduce sodium intake, exercise, avoid alcohol, and use stress reduction techniques. Consult a doctor before aggressively lowering.

Q: Is 120/80 high blood pressure?

A: No, 120/80 mmHg is within the normal range. But consistent readings above that level are considered elevated.

Q: Can anxiety or stress cause high blood pressure?

A: Yes, acute anxiety and stress can temporarily spike blood pressure. Chronic stress may contribute to persistently elevated levels.

Q: How often should you check your blood pressure?

A: At home, try checking 1-2 times per week. Those with hypertension or at risk may need daily monitoring.

Q: What time of day is blood pressure highest?

A. Blood pressure is often highest in the mornings within 1 hour of waking up. Try checking before bed for optimal readings.


We hope this overview has helped explain the difference between systolic and diastolic blood

pressure. Understanding what each number means and keeping both within a healthy range is important for

maintaining optimal cardiovascular health.

Monitor your blood pressure regularly and discuss the readings with your doctor. Make lifestyle

modifications as needed to control high blood pressure. While medication may be necessary for some, healthy

changes to your diet, exercise, weight, stress levels, and other factors can go a long

way toward supporting healthy blood pressure!

You can look at our  blog article, 13 Ways To Naturally Lower Your blood pressure!


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