At East Side Primary Medical Care on New York City’s Upper East Side, our skilled primary care provider, Dr. Daniel Klein, checks your blood pressure every time you come in for care, whether for your annual physical exam or a sick visit.
It’s a simple test that may help us find health issues before they turn into serious problems.
Because your blood pressure is such a vital health screening tool, we think it’s important for you to know what your reading means.
The blood pressure test
Though everyone’s experience at the doctor’s office is different, there are some things you can expect, like checking your temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure.
The blood pressure test is a standard health screening that measures the force of blood against the walls of your arteries during and between heart beats. The reading includes two numbers:
Systolic is the top number and is the amount of pressure placed on your arteries when the heart is squeezing (contracting) to pump blood through.
Diastolic is the bottom number. This number measures the pressure on the arteries between heartbeats.
The systolic pressure is always higher than the diastolic pressure.
Your blood pressure fluctuates throughout the day based on your body’s needs. It’s normal for your blood pressure to go up during activity and go down while you rest. Your emotions, breathing, and body position also affect your blood pressure.
Understanding your blood pressure reading
We check your blood pressure regularly to screen for high blood pressure, also called hypertension, which is when your blood pressure is persistently higher than it should be. Having high blood pressure is a risk factor for heart disease, kidney disease, and vascular dementia.
Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury, or mm Hg, for example, 120 mm Hg/80 mm Hg. Below is a chart that explains what your blood pressure readings mean, according to the American Heart Association (AHA):
- Normal blood pressure: less than 120/80
- Elevated blood pressure: 120-129/less than 80
- Stage 1 hypertension: 130-139/80-89
- Stage 2 hypertension: 140 or higher/90 or higher
One elevated blood pressure reading doesn’t mean you have high blood pressure. Many people have slightly elevated blood pressure readings when they visit the doctor due to anxiety. We may test your blood pressure more than once during a checkup.
If we have concerns about high blood pressure, we may ask you to invest in a small at-home blood pressure monitor. You can then check your blood pressure throughout the day and send the data to us so we can get a more accurate picture of your health.
Tips for improving your blood pressure
High blood pressure is common, and some of the factors that put you at risk of developing the condition are out of your control, like your age and genes. However, you can take steps to improve your blood pressure, potentially preventing high blood pressure by:
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Eating a balanced diet
- Limiting your intake of foods high in salt (sodium)
- Getting regular physical activity
- Quitting smoking
Your blood pressure reading helps us gather information about the health of your heart and your risk of future health problems. If you have questions about your blood pressure readings, we can provide the answers you need.
We are a primary care practice that offers concierge care and telemedicine appointments.
Schedule an appointment by calling our office today or clicking the book online button.