What Is Normal Blood Pressure?
People are often curious about what normal blood pressure is. Though many people consider ideal blood pressure to be an average reading of 120/80 or below, in reality, normal blood pressure is not one set number. Factors such as family history can affect a person's blood pressure range. Your average blood pressure can only be determined when multiple readings are taken over at least three days.
Blood pressure is the amount of force (pressure) that blood exerts on the walls of the blood vessels as it passes through them. The majority of healthcare providers agree that healthy blood pressure can fall anywhere within the normal blood pressure range. However, blood pressure can also be too high or too low -- both of which can cause problems.
In most cases, your healthcare provider will use a special device called a sphygmomanometer to measure your blood pressure. When your healthcare provider measures your blood pressure, a cuff made of fabric is wrapped around your arm and then slightly inflated. The blood pressure is measured by a gauge attached to the cuff. The healthcare provider reads the numbers from the gauge while air is released from the cuff. Blood pressure can also be measured with a blood pressure machine.
The two numbers that measure your blood pressure are written like a fraction: one number on top and one on the bottom. Healthcare providers consider a normal blood pressure reading to be 120/80 or below. However, normal blood pressure can actually fall anywhere in a range from 90/60 to 120/80 -- it's not just one set number.
The top number of the blood pressure reading is called the systolic pressure. It measures the pressure inside your blood vessels at the moment your heart beats. The number on the bottom is your diastolic pressure. It measures the pressure in your blood vessels between heartbeats, when your heart is resting.