A blood pressure reading in the range of 120/80 to 140/90 is considered normal.

Blood pressure (BP) is a surefire indicator of a person's physical and mental health, and is widely used in the diagnosis of a number of health issues. It is used to accurately indicate the condition of an individual's heart and how his body is responding to various factors including stress, natural bodily changes, nutrition, and medications. The 'blood pressure' that is measured, is nothing but the pressure exerted on the walls of the blood vessels by the blood circulating throughout the body, after being pumped by the heart. The value of blood pressure is maximum when the blood is pumped out of the heart to the rest of the body, this is called systolic blood pressure. The blood pressure then decreases as it goes into the capillaries and then to the body tissues. This minimum value is the diastolic blood pressure. The blood pressure is at its minimum when the heart rests between the beats. Thus, blood pressure consists of two main values, systolic and diastolic.

Blood pressure was earlier measured by using mercury based sphygmomanometers, but modern sphygmomanometers do not contain mercury. Digital sphygmomanometers are also widely available nowadays. Yet the unit, millimeters of mercury, continues to be used to express the value of blood pressure.

Blood Pressure Range for Different Age Groups

The accepted blood pressure range could vary according to the age of a person and his physical condition. A family history of high blood pressure or obesity can also increase the risk of developing higher than normal blood pressure for men. The normal blood pressure for an average adult human being is 115/75, while in kids it is lower by around 5-10 mm of mercury depending on the age of the child. It was believed that your normal systolic blood pressure is 100 added to your age. This rule is not applicable for those above 40 though. The readings for men can range from 120/80 in a healthy and fit 20-year-old, to about a 140/90 in a 60-year-old man.

The ideal blood pressure value is 120/80, but it varies throughout the day, and can increase or decrease depending on the food you eat and amount of physical activity. Blood pressure increases in times of stress or after eating food, especially salty food, and decreases after a strenuous exercise routine. Signs of high blood pressure could include hypertension, heart problems, kidney diseases and obesity. Low blood pressure can cause weakness, fatigue, dizziness.

How to Measure BP Correctly?

There are a number of methods to measure blood pressure that includes non invasive as well as invasive methods. Simple and easy to use home blood pressure monitors are also available nowadays. The easiest and most common method used by doctors everywhere is the auscultatory method, using the stethoscope and a sphygmomanometer.

The correct way to go about measuring your blood pressure would be, to place the inflatable cuff around the upper arm at about the same height as the heart. It is then to be inflated until tight on the arm. The air is then released slowly and a stethoscope is used to detect a rushing sound. That would be the sound of the blood leaving the heart in a hurry. The pressure reading on the sphygmomanometer during this gushing movement indicates the systolic pressure. Once the sound gradually fades away, the reading at this point is the diastolic pressure. For getting an accurate reading the following factors have to be kept in mind:
  • The hand on which the reading is being taken has to be kept at the same level as the heart. It should be rested on a solid surface so that it can be relaxed.
  • The reading should be taken on a bare arm, as any fabric in between can give an inaccurate reading.
  • Some other factors that can affect the accuracy of the reading include smoking, drinking coffee, or a workout session exceeding 30 minutes before taking the reading. An urge to urinate could also affect the reading.
When Should BP be Measured?

The best time to measure blood pressure is either as soon as you wake up, before having breakfast, after you have finished your work or towards the end of the day.

Men, as noted above, have a greater risk of developing high blood pressure. Some of the ways to maintain normal blood pressure for men are regular exercise, a healthy diet plan where salt and fats are avoided, abstinence from smoking and adequate rest. Regular health checkups and monitoring of blood pressure can help ensure a long and healthy life.

Disclaimer: This Buzzle article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.