Why Your Blood Pressure Trends Are Worth Tracking

Why Your Blood Pressure Trends Are Worth Tracking

The recent rise in telehealth has meant, in many cases, having more convenient, accessible ways to stay on top of your health. However, it’s important not to lose certain aspects of a traditional visit to the doctor in the shuffle from in-person to telehealth appointments—for example, measuring blood pressure.

In a recent webinar that presented research from the American Medical Association (AMA), Katie Kirley, MD, director of chronic disease prevention in the Improving Health Outcomes group at the AMA, said that, compared to doctor visits in 2018 and 2019, significantly fewer people were having their blood pressure taken during the second quarter of 2020 (when visits were more likely to be via telehealth).

Surely there are multiple reasons why blood pressure measures largely fell by the wayside during telehealth visits in 2020. But one possible explanation may be that, unless you already live with a blood pressure-related condition such as hypertension, you might not have an accurate or accessible way to measure your blood pressure at home. But… should you? How important is it really to know how your blood pressure is trending?

Understanding What Your Blood Pressure Numbers Mean

When you get your blood pressure taken at your doctor’s office, you’re usually given two numbers that signify your current blood pressure levels. 

Here’s a quick breakdown: The top number represents your systolic blood pressure, while the bottom number refers to diastolic blood pressure. Systolic measures the pressure against the artery walls when your heart contracts (or beats), and diastolic measures the pressure against the artery walls when your heart relaxes (between heartbeats). For example, a reading of 120/80 mm Hg means your systolic blood pressure is 120, and your diastolic blood pressure is 80.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), in most cases, more attention is given to systolic blood pressure because it’s a major risk factor for heart disease in people over 50 years old. However, both elevated systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings can lead to a diagnosis of high blood pressure.

Overall, there are four ways to categorize blood pressure levels:

  • Normal blood pressure: Systolic less than 120 mm Hg and diastolic less than 80 mm Hg
  • Elevated blood pressure: Systolic between 120 and 129 mm Hg and diastolic less than 80 mm Hg
  • Stage 1 hypertension: Systolic between 130 and 139 mm Hg or diastolic between 80 and 89 mm Hg
  • Stage 2 hypertension: Systolic at 140 mm Hg or higher or diastolic of 90 mm Hg or higher
  • Hypertensive crisis: Systolic higher than 180 mm Hg and/or diastolic higher than 120 mm Hg

Why Blood Pressure Trends Are Worth Tracking, Regardless of Diagnosis

Maybe you don’t have high blood pressure now, but the fact is, nearly half of all adults in the U.S. have hypertension. Considering high blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke (two leading causes of death in the U.S.), maintaining blood pressure in a healthy range can have a huge impact on reducing the risk of these conditions, explains One Drop coach Sandra, a registered dietitian/nutritionist (RDN), certified diabetes care and education specialist (CDCES), and certified wellness coach (CWC).

Unfortunately, though, high blood pressure doesn’t typically show signs or symptoms, which is why it’s often referred to as “the silent killer.”

“Even if you don’t currently have a chronic condition, knowing how your blood pressure is trending can help you identify problems early,” says Sandra. “Monitoring your blood pressure raises your awareness so you can take action. Knowing and managing those health markers gives you an insight into your health.”

However, it’s not necessarily enough just to know how your blood pressure is trending. It’s also key to have real-time insights about your blood pressure that can show you how to act on those numbers to keep them in a healthy range—whether that means exploring heart-healthy cooking methods, taking steps to quit smoking, or setting new weight management goals.

Ready to start learning more about your blood pressure? Check out One Drop’s Complete Blood Pressure package to access personalized health plans, a Withings BPM Connect smart Wi-Fi blood pressure monitor, one-on-one health coaching, and much more.

This article has been clinically reviewed by Jamillah Hoy-Rosas, MPH, RDN, CDCES, and VP of clinical operations at One Drop.

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Allie Strickler
Sep 07, 2021

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