Blood pressure is defined as the force or pressure exerted by the circulating blood on the walls of arteries. It is a vital sign used to determine the health condition of an individual. It is measured by using sphygmomanometer or other electronic devices. The measurement of blood pressure encompasses two pressures - the systolic and diastolic. Systolic pressure is measured when the heart is beating, whereas diastolic measurement is done in between two heartbeats or when the heart is at rest. The difference between these two readings is referred to as pulse pressure.
While representing an individual's blood pressure, systolic is written at the top and diastolic at the bottom. For example, the normal blood pressure is 120/80 mmHg. Over here, 120 is systolic, 80 is diastolic, and mmHg (millimeters of mercury) is the unit of blood pressure. A deviation in the normal blood pressure can be a sign of cardiovascular and other health complications. It is observed that elderly people tend to have higher systolic and lower diastolic pressures.
Low Diastolic Blood Pressure
Diastolic reading is used as an indicator for identifying the blood pressure problems among younger individuals. Similar to systolic reading, this pressure fluctuates depending upon the physical exertion and other activities. Hence, a regular monitoring of blood pressure is necessary to determine the average diastolic reading. An average diastolic reading below 60 mmHg is considered low. This condition is also known as diastolic low blood pressure or hypotension.
Under low diastolic conditions, there is a decreased blood flow to the body cells and tissues, thus reducing the supply of oxygen and nutrients. Usually, low diastolic pressure accompanies cardiovascular diseases among elderly people. It may result from factors like an abnormality in coronary blood flow, stiffening of the arterial walls, side effects of medications, and other underlying medical conditions such as dehydration and organ inflammation. Low blood pressure on the diastolic scale for a prolonged period may lead to the cell damage.
High Diastolic Blood Pressure
If an average diastolic reading is 90 mmHg, then it is referred to as diastolic high blood pressure (hypertension). It is caused due to the hardening of blood vessels, aging of the heart muscles, high-cholesterol level, prolonged smoking, and obesity. People with a diastolic reading within the range of 80-89 are considered to have prehypertension.
Hypertension is a common cardiovascular problem among the people under 50 years of age. On the contrary, those who are above 50 years of age have high systolic blood pressure and pulse pressure. High diastolic reading may lead to the damage of small blood vessels over a period of time. According to recent studies, it causes more severe effects on the body than a high systolic condition.
Considering a single blood pressure, the systolic type is believed to be more relevant in diagnosing the cardiovascular diseases. However, a high diastolic reading accompanied with high systolic reading signifies a higher risk of heart attacks, stroke, kidney failure, and organ damage. An individual is diagnosed with chronic high blood pressure (hypertension) if the average systolic blood pressure is 140 mmHg and diastolic reading is 90 mmHg.
The treatment of abnormal blood pressure is essential to avoid life-threatening conditions. In addition to certain effective medications, it is always recommended to quit smoking, practice physical exercise, maintain a healthy body weight, and follow a healthy lifestyle.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.