If your doctor has told you that you need to keep a closer eye on your blood pressure, then one of the tools that you might use to ensure that your levels stay within the normal range, is a high blood pressure chart. These charts are designed to help you distinguish between dangerous blood pressure levels, and levels that are generally quite close to normal.

When your doctor records your blood pressure, it is written in the form of two numbers that look like a fraction. There’s one number on the top, called the systolic pressure, and one number on the bottom, known as the diastolic blood pressure.

The number at the top of the reading refers to the amount of pressure you have in your arteries when your heart pumps blood by contracting. It’s known as systolic pressure, and it’s important to a full reading of your blood pressure – something you’ll see on your high blood pressure chart. The bottom number refers to the blood pressure your body has when your heart rests between beats.

Here, we’ll be looking at how you can read these charts, and what you need to know about the numbers that dictate the right degree of blood pressure. After all, everyone wants to have a healthy blood pressure, but most people don’t actually know what that term means. Here, we’ll help you to get a grip on the numbers that could tell whether your heart is working exactly as it should be.

What Will a Normal Reading Look Like?

When you use a high blood pressure chart to check on your blood pressure levels, you might find that the different numbers are color-coded to help you understand the difference between normal and the dangerous numbers. To get a normal reading, you’ll need a blood pressure that shows a top number of somewhere between 90 and 120, and a bottom number between 60 and 80.

According to the American Heart Association, blood pressure is in the normal range when it’s in these numbers. You might be wondering what these numbers represent, and the answer is millimeters of mercury, a term that’s often expressed as mm Hg. This means that a good reading might be a blood pressure reading of 110/80 mm Hg.

If you measure your blood pressure and find that you come in at the normal range on the high blood pressure chart, then you won’t need to do anything differently. You can simply focus on maintaining a healthy lifestyle and keeping your weight in check. Regularly exercising and reducing your salt intake can be useful too. You might need to be more mindful if problems with blood pressure are common in your family.

Pre-hypertension Levels:

There is a middle ground on a high blood pressure chart between dangerous blood pressure, and normal pressure. Numbers that are any higher than 120/80 could be a sign that you need to change your lifestyle and start taking better care of your heart. When the top number is between 120 and 139, and the bottom number is between 80 and 89, this indicates that you’re suffering from something known as pre-hypertension.

Although these numbers can’t yet be considered as high blood pressure, they are a sign that you’re moving away from the normal range, which could indicate that you’re on your way to becoming hypertensive. Any indication of higher than normal blood pressure could put you at increased risk of a stroke or heart disease.

Although you won’t need to take any medication if you suffer from pre-hypertension, you will need to think about adopting a healthier lifestyle. Most doctors recommend starting with exercise and a balanced diet to bring your blood pressure back down to the healthy range.

Hypertension Blood Pressure Levels:

If you go beyond the pre-hypertension stage on your high blood pressure chart, this is when things start to get a little more worrisome. High blood pressure is when your reading shows a top number of over 160, and a bottom number of 100. This is considered to be something called stage 2 hypertension, and at this stage, you may need to start taking drugs to keep your blood pressure under control.

You should never rely exclusively on medication for your hypertension issues, as lifestyle changes are just as important, but ACE inhibitors can relax your blood vessels, while beta blockers decrease your heart rate. Alpha blockers can also decrease arterial resistance, while calcium blockers relax the blood vessels.

Dangerous Levels on a High Blood Pressure Chart:

Although anything above normal on a high blood pressure chart could be a sign that you need to make changes to your health and fitness routine, a blood pressure reading that goes above 180/110 could indicate a serious problem, otherwise known as a hypertensive crisis. In this range, your blood pressure will require urgent treatment, regardless of whether you have symptoms or not.

Crisis-level hypertension can come with a range of symptoms including a shortness of breath, chest pain, changes in your vision, dizziness, and headaches. You might also notice blood in the urine, and symptoms of a stroke, such as a loss of muscle control in one side of your face.

In some cases, you might find yourself experiencing a high reading that quickly goes away by itself. If your blood pressure measures this high, your doctor will generally take a second reading after a moment or two. This will help them to determine whether you need treatment instantly, particularly if you have any of the symptoms indicated above.

What if Your Blood Pressure Is Too Low?

You might not be able to see the signs of blood pressure that’s too low on a high blood pressure chart, but that doesn’t mean that this condition is any less dangerous. The problem with low blood pressure is known as hypotension, and it occurs when you have a reading that’s beneath 90/60 mm Hg. Hypotension can be very dangerous because blood pressure that isn’t high enough won’t provide your heart and body with the right amount of oxygenated blood to thrive.

Causes of hypotension can vary, but they may include pregnancy, blood loss, heart problems, malnutrition, severe infections, and interactions with certain medications.