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Good blood pressure ranges: What's high, what's low, and what's normal for men and women

High blood pressure, also known as pulmonary hypertension, is very common in adults over 40, and the numbers are growing for both men and women. According to statistics from the American Heart Association, about 73.6 million adults in the U.S. over age 20 have high blood pressure, and it kills more than 50,000 U.S. citizens each year, an increase of about 25% from as recent as 1995. One in three adults in the U.S. has high blood pressure, though many are unaware of it, since there are often no symptoms.

Care givers differ on the exact numbers but these are the approximate blood pressure ranges for systolic (upper number) and diastolic (lower number):

Low: Systolic 90 or less, diastolic 60 or less
Normal: Systolic 90 to 135, Diastolic 60 to 90
High: Systolic above 135, Diastolic above 90

Obviously, the higher the number the more severe the hypertension. A reading of 136/92 isn't nearly as bad as 190/120, which would be considered severe. Periods of illness or stress, or even being overheated, can temporarily raise your blood pressure, which can falsely indicate a problem. That's why most doctors won't put you on medication until you had high readings a few times in a row.

It is usually a good idea, once you have been diagnosed with hypertension, to get a home blood pressure monitor to keep track of it. These often cost less than $100, and can assist you in keeping track at various times of day.

Women and blood pressure ranges: Post-menopausal women are more likely to have increased blood pressure, studies show, due to a decrease in estrogen and progesterone levels. Vaginal dryness or diminished arousal may be indicative of high blood pressure, high blood pressure can reduce blood flow to the vagina. Pre-menopausal women often have low to normal blood pressure, since those hormones act as protectors. If a woman has high blood pressure during pregnancy, it can be a possible indicator of a condition called preeclampsia, which can be confirmed by normal screening by your doctor.

Men and blood pressure problems: According to the Mayo Clinic, erectile dysfunction can be a symptom of high blood pressure. "Over time, high blood pressure damages the lining of blood vessels and causes arteries to harden and narrow (atherosclerosis), limiting blood flow," the Mayo Clinic website has stated. "This means less blood is able to flow to the penis. For some men, the decreased blood flow makes it difficult to achieve and maintain erections — often referred to as erectile dysfunction. The problem is fairly common, especially among men who are not treating their high blood pressure."

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