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Blood Pressure
Feb 23, 2024

Decoding Blood Pressure Readings: A Comprehensive Guide

One side-effect of living a busy and stressful lifestyle is that you can become easily susceptible to diseases such as high blood pressure or hypertension. Also called the "silent killer" by the World Health Organization, untreated high blood pressure can lead to severe consequences - from heart attacks to strokes to premature death. One way of combatting hypertension is to ensure proper, high-quality treatment. A health insurance policy can help in this regard by providing the right financial support for treatment.* Claims are subject to terms and conditions set forth under health insurance policy. But before one worries about hypertension - one must understand what it means. What level of blood pressure is considered as "high blood pressure" in clinical terms? If you are not a medical practitioner, blood pressure readings can be a bit difficult to understand.

Understanding Blood Pressure Readings

In simple terms, blood pressure is the pressure at which the blood pushes against the blood vessels and moves through the circulatory system in your body. If the pressure is too high, it increases the workload of the heart and blood vessels. If left untreated, it can lead to a load of health problems. To know if you have high blood pressure or not, you must get it tested. Knowing where your blood pressure levels stand is important for taking timely action.

Blood Pressure Reading - Healthy and Unhealthy ranges

The following table lists the blood pressure category for the different numbers you might see on your blood pressure meter.  
Systolic mm Hg (Upper number) Diastolic mm Hg (Lower number) Category of blood pressure
Less than 120 and Less than 80 Normal
120 – 129 and Less than 80 Elevated
130 – 139 or 80 – 89 High blood pressure/ Hypertension - Stage 1
140 or Higher or 90 or Higher High blood pressure/ Hypertension - Stage 2
Higher than 180 and/or Higher than 120 Hypertensive crisis
If your blood pressure readings are higher than 180/120 mm Hg, consult a doctor immediately.

Understanding Blood Pressure Categories in Detail 

Following are the five blood pressure categories generally recognised by the medical community-


Blood pressure readings below 120/80 mm Hg are considered normal. Stick to heart-healthy habits like a balanced diet and regular exercise if your results fall in this range.


Elevated blood pressure ranges from 120-129 systolic and less than 80 mm Hg diastolic. Without the right intervention, it may lead to high blood pressure.

Stage 1 Hypertension

Consistent readings of 130-139 systolic or 80-89 mm Hg diastolic means a case of stage 1 hypertension. Lifestyle changes and, if needed, medication, might be recommended at this stage. The medications may depend on your risk of diseases such as heart attacks or strokes.

Stage 2 Hypertension

In case the blood pressure meter shows consistent readings of 140/90 mm Hg or higher, it will be considered a case of stage 2 hypertension. Treatment usually involves a combination of medication and lifestyle adjustments.

Hypertensive crisis

If blood pressure readings exceed 180/120 mm Hg, wait for five minutes, and check your blood pressure again. If it’s still exceeding the 180/120 mm Hg limit, reach out to a medical practitioner right away. If you are also experiencing symptoms like chest pain, breathlessness, difficulty in speaking, etc., seek immediate medical help. Do not wait to check your blood pressure again.

Systolic and Diastolic Blood Pressure Readings

If you need to become more familiar with the terms - systolic and diastolic - here is a simple explanation for both. Blood pressure is measured using two numbers:
  1. Systolic blood pressure, or the first number, represents the pressure your blood exerts against your artery walls when the heart contracts.
  2. Diastolic blood pressure, or the second number, signifies the pressure your blood exerts against your artery walls while the heart muscle is at rest between contractions.
Usually, greater emphasis is placed on systolic blood pressure (the first number). However, both readings can contribute to the diagnosis of high blood pressure. Combatting hypertension requires good-quality treatment to a great extent. Hence, one must have the right general insurance policy in place for it.

How Health Insurance Can Help with Hypertension

Here is how health insurance can help -
  1. Health insurance plans offer coverage for various aspects, including hospitalisation expenses. This can help individuals dealing with hypertension to get the right treatment without worrying about the financial aspects.*
  2. It is important to pick a health insurance plan that covers hypertension, even as a pre-existing condition with a waiting period. Make note of waiting periods or loading for pre-existing conditions that most plans have.*
  3. You can also opt for other general insurance plans like critical illness insurance to get comprehensive financial help.*
Claims are subject to terms and conditions set forth under health insurance policy. To get an idea of what such a health insurance plan might cost, you can use a health insurance calculator.   *Standard T&C apply. Insurance is the subject matter of solicitation. For more details on benefits, exclusions, limitations, terms, and conditions, please read the sales brochure/policy wording carefully before concluding a sale.

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