Which Blood Pressure Reading is More Important, Systolic or Diastolic

In this article, we’re going to look at which of the two numbers is more important. 

There’re always two numbers on your blood pressure readings. 

The upper number, or the first reading, is the systolic blood pressure. 

This is the pressure created, when your heart pumps blood into the vessels. 

The lower number is the diastolic blood pressure. 

This is a baseline pressure when your heart is at rest. 

It’s important to know how to react, when either number is out of range. 

Let’s first talk about what doctors historically thought about blood pressure readings. 

Doctors earlier considered the diastolic blood pressure to be more important. 

The general view was that systolic blood pressure normally increases with age. 

The upper number was ignored, unless it was extremely out of range. 

However, the diastolic blood pressure was treated with medication, even when it was slightly off. 

The understanding was that the baseline pressure, when the heart is at rest, determined the overall health of the heart. 

But several recent studies have different conclusions. 

First, let’s look at the risks of having a high systolic blood pressure number?

Having high systolic blood pressure can be caused by artery stiffness, an overactive thyroid or even diabetes. 

Occasionally, it can be caused by heart valve problems. 

And older people are at a high risk of having a high systolic blood pressure number.

In fact, high systolic blood pressure is the most common form of high blood pressure, in people older than age 65.

If you’re over 50, and you have a high systolic number, you might be at a greater risk of having serious cardiovascular problems such as having a heart attack, a bleeding stroke or a severe pain in the chest, which is called angina.

High systolic blood pressure can even result in chronic kidney disease.

These are all very serious medical conditions.

Now let’s look at the risks of having a high diastolic blood pressure. 

Having an elevated diastolic pressure could weaken the main artery of your body. 

This artery is known as the aorta. 

It runs centrally from your heart, through your abdomen. 

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It then branches out as separate arteries into the legs. 

A weakened portion of the aorta in the abdominal area could turn into a bulge. 

This bulge is caused by the overstretching of the aorta in the belly region. 

Continuously high diastolic pressure could make the bulge rupture. 

This results in serious internal bleeding and could be fatal. 

The medical term for this life-threatening condition is, ‘abdominal aortic aneurysm’. 

So which is more important?

Both numbers are equally important. 

This is evident now, from the specific risks associated with each number. 

If your systolic blood pressure reading is high, it’s not safe to ignore it. 

The same goes with your diastolic blood reading. 

Both should be taken seriously. 

And just because you’re taking blood pressure medication, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re out of the woods. 

One study compared a group of people with no history of high blood pressure, with a group of people who were controlling their blood pressure, with blood pressure medications. 

The study found that the group that was controlling their blood pressure with medications, still had a higher risk of heart disease, than those who had no history of high blood pressure.

In fact, the study found that a 30-year-old with high blood pressure, has a 63 percent, lifetime risk of developing heart disease, compared with 46 percent for a person with normal blood pressure

This study demonstrates that even though you’re taking medications, you still have a high risk of heart problems.

The key is to continue to monitor both your numbers regularly. 

And remember, eating healthy, exercising, and constantly tracking both your diastolic, and systolic blood pressure numbers is important to maintaining a healthy heart.

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