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Have High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)? Know Your Numbers!

Nina Ghamrawi, MS, RD, CDE
November 13, 2021
April 30, 2024

When you measure your blood pressure at home, do you sometimes look at the number but aren't sure what it means? Is it high or low? Should you be worried? Read this article to learn more about your readings!

There are two numbers in a blood pressure reading - the systolic blood pressure (the upper number) and the diastolic pressure (the bottom number). The systolic blood pressure measures the force your heart exerts on the walls of your arteries each time it beats while the diastolic blood pressure measures the force your heart exerts on the walls of your arteries in between beats.

Getting Your Baseline

Knowing your blood pressure is crucial to knowing where you are with your blood pressure. But since blood pressure tends to bounce around a lot, just checking a few times a week or month is usually not enough. If your blood pressure is stable, or you are too busy to check often, the American Heart Association recommends what is called a ‘baseline’, or a group of at least 12 measurements that are averaged together to estimate your true current blood pressure. It is done by checking both in the morning, and the evening, for at least 3 days - each time you check your blood pressure, measure it 2 times, spaced no more than 1 minute apart.

The schedule would look like this:

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3
Morning - measurement pair Morning - measurement pair Morning - measurement pair
Evening - measurement pair Evening - measurement pair Evening - measurement pair

Check your baseline at any time, but most importantly, when you are new to the program, when you have a medication change or new diagnosis, or even a change in your routine, stress, or lifestyle. You may also check it when you measure less often than 3 times per week.

The New Blood Pressure Guideline

It's important to note that the previous blood pressure guideline recommended levels of 140/90 mmHg for individuals under 65 and 150/80 mmHg for those aged 65 and older. However, this guideline is no longer in effect, as it has been revised to establish a threshold of 130/80 mmHg or higher for all adults by the American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology, and nine other health organizations.

Keep in mind that this guideline specifically pertains to blood pressure standards. Your personal target may differ from what this guideline considers "normal." Your primary care physician should determine this based on their assessment of your overall health. In many cases, individuals with both diabetes and hypertension may have a therapeutic blood pressure goal lower than 140/90 mmHg (Stage 1 or below). However, for those at high risk of cardiovascular diseases who can achieve it without excessive treatment, a more stringent goal of lower than 130/80 mm Hg (Elevated or below) may be recommended.


I hope now you're able to appreciate the importance of knowing your baseline blood pressure and regularly monitoring it. If you have any questions about your blood pressure readings or need advice on keeping it within the target range, please feel free to reach out to your UnifiedCare Team!

Updated on 10/11/2023 by: Yiwen Lu

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