Systolic and Diastolic: Two Numbers Your Heart Needs to Know

Hypertension does not mean a person is either hyper or tense; instead, it refers to elevated systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings. These readings are an important barometer in diagnosing and treating hypertension. If the numbers are high, dangerous health problems can result.

The Causes

The cause of primary hypertension is not known. It tends to slowly increase as a person ages, and there are few countermeasures to prevent it. The other type of hypertension, called secondary hypertension, can be due to:

Blood pressure
  • Certain Medications
  • Kidney Problems
  • Use of Illegal Drugs
  • Heavy use of Alcohol
  • Obesity
  • A Sedentary Lifestyle
  • Stress
  • Tobacco Use
  • A High Sodium Diet


There are many health risks that occur due to hypertension, and the longer it is left untreated, the greater the hazard.

Perhaps the biggest problem is deterioration of heart health. Over time, the arteries become scarred due to the force exerted upon them by the higher pressure. These scars can hold in fat and cholesterol. If enough builds up, they can block the artery and trigger a heart attack. These clogged arteries are also more likely to lead to the formation of blood clots. The clots can cause organ damage, a stroke, and even death.


Making lifestyle changes can help reduce the risk of high blood pressure. The most important behavior modifications are:

  • Exercise Regularly
  • Limit Sodium
  • Use Meditation Or Relaxation Techniques To Help Control Stress
  • Try To Keep At A Healthy Weight
  • Quit Smoking
  • Drink Alcohol Only In Moderation


Even if all these measures are taken, there is no guarantee that hypertension will be brought under control. If the systolic and diastolic numbers are still high, make an appointment with a doctor. They may request that a log be used in which readings are taken twice a day and entered into the log. If the overall average of the readings remains high, a medication will likely be prescribed. The importance of taking hypertension medication as directed cannot be stressed highly enough.

Hypertension is a common condition and very treatable. Know the two blood pressure numbers, and check them regularly. Keeping hypertension under control can literally be lifesaving.