Diastolic Blood Pressure - Understanding Readings

Diastolic BP

Diastolic blood pressure refers to the pressure that is exerted on the walls of the various arteries around the body in between heart beats when the heart is relaxed. Statistics suggest that high diastolic readings can be directly linked to heart disease, strokes and early death.

BP readings are represented as one figure over another. The bottom value in the representation is the diastolic , whilst the upper value is the systolic pressure reading. A blood pressure reading would be written as 140/90, with 140 being the systolic measurement, and 90 being the diastolic measurement. Both readings in the example above would be indicative of a higher than normal blood pressure level.

When diastolic blood pressure readings are above 80, a person is said to be either prehypertensive or hypertensive. Prehypertensive individuals will have a diastolic blood pressure reading of between 80 and 89 mmHg. The moment that diastolic blood pressure levels reach 90 mmHg it is an indication that the patient concerned is suffering from hypertension, or high blood pressure.

Diastolic readings may also be used to determine precisely which type of hypertension a person is suffering from. A diastolic blood pressure reading above 120 mmHg is a clear indication that a person is at serious risk of succumbing to a stroke or heart attack. This type of hypertension is termed accelerated malignant hypertension and requires urgent medical attention.

Benign hypertension on the other hand is used to describe the condition whereby diastolic blood pressure levels are 90 mmHg or higher, but do not elevate any further when measured over an extended period of time. Finally, labile hypertension refers to the condition whereby diastolic blood pressure levels constantly fluctuate between 80 and 100 mmHg. Like malignant hypertension, the other two forms of hypertension also require swift attention. Unlike malignant hypertension however, the successful treatment of benign and labile hypertension may not require high blood pressure medication.

Diastolic readings are particularly important in the monitoring blood pressure in younger individuals. As a person's age increases however, so too does the importance of their systolic blood pressure measurement. Systolic blood pressure refers to the pressure in the arteries when the heart contracts and blood is being forced throughout the body. Systolic blood pressure is known to rise with age as a result of the hardening of the arteries. In some cases this may result in a condition known as Isolated Systolic High Blood Pressure or ISH. Like all other forms of high blood pressure, ISH should be treated immediately with a high blood pressure diet, and in some cases prescribed medication.

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