What Is the Optimal Blood Pressure Reading?


High Blood Pressure--also known as hypertension--refers to increased pressure of the blood against the walls of the arteries. Blood pressure is created by the heart when it pumps blood through the arteries and circulatory system. It is also created by the force of the arteries as they resist the blood flow. The systolic, which is stated first in a reading, is the higher number. This symbolizes the pressure when the heart contracts to pump blood into the body. The lower number, diastolic, is the pressure of the heart when it relaxes between beats. Optimally, in order to consider yourself healthy, there is a suggested blood pressure reading.

Symptoms of High Blood Pressure

According to the American Heart Association, in most cases, there are no usual physical symptoms of high blood pressure. Nonetheless, people may exhibit symptoms like nausea, vomiting, sweating, dizziness and blurred vision when blood pressure levels are elevated. High blood pressure is also a symptom that often leads to other serious health conditions such as stroke, kidney failure, heart disease, vision loss and heart failure.

About the Readings

Stress, exercise or other factors can affect blood pressure and cause it to increase. If for some reason, the reading is high, a person should take several readings over the span of a few hours or days. Blood pressure is often elevated after intense exercise or moments of stress. However, if the increased blood pressure persists, there could be cause for worry.

Optimal Reading

An optimal reading is considered anything lower than 120/80. The actual number of 120/80 is not considered perfect--but actually numbers lower are considered to be optimal. For example, someone with a blood pressure reading of 116/76 has an optimal reading. Blood pressure readings can also be categorized into different stages: normal (less than 120/80), pre-hypertension (120-139/80-89), stage one (140-159/90-99), and stage two (160 or higher/100 or higher). According the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, all levels over normal readings are considered risk factors (NHLBI, 2009).

Maintaining Optimal Blood Pressure

Although blood pressure may increase with age, in order to maintain optimal blood pressure, one must commit to a lifestyle that includes regular exercise and eating healthy, well-balanced meals. There are other treatments, such as medication and other types of alternative medicines to decrease hypertension as well. Always consult a physician before taking new medication or trying new programs to lower blood pressure.


Hypertension is frequently referred to as the "silent killer." This nickname is relevant because many people go years without knowing that they have it. EMedicine Health describes the condition of malignant hypertension. This condition affects those who go long periods of time with consistent high blood pressure. Malignant hypertension's symptoms are more pronounced (nausea and headache) and usually requires emergency medical attention. Being aware of the optimal reading and working towards obtaining this number could end up saving your life.

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