Understand what the readings mean. Once you have recorded your blood pressure, it is important to know what the numbers mean. Use the following guide for reference:
Normal blood pressure: Systolic number of less than 120 and diastolic number of less than 80.
Prehypertension: Systolic number between 120 and 139, diastolic number between 80 and 89.
Stage 1 Hypertension: Systolic number between 140 and 159, diastolic number between 90 and 99.
Stage 2 Hypertension: Systolic number higher than 160 and diastolic number higher than 100.
Hypertensive Crisis: Systolic number higher than 180 and diastolic number higher than 110.
Don't worry if your blood pressure is low. Even if your blood pressure readings are far below the 120/80 "normal" mark, there is usually no cause for concern. A low blood pressure reading of, say, 85/55 mmHg is still considered to be acceptable, as long as no symptoms of low blood pressure are present.
However, if you are experiencing symptoms of dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting, trouble concentrating, cold and clammy skin, fast and shallow breathing, dehydration, nausea, blurred vision and/or fatigue, it is advisable that you see a doctor right away, as your low blood pressure may be the result of an underlying condition, which could be serious or cause serious complications
If you take your blood pressure after exercising, after eating salty foods, drinking coffee, smoking, or during a period of high stress, your blood pressure might be uncharacteristically high. If the blood pressure cuff was too loose or too tight on your arm or too large or too small for your size, the readings could be inaccurate. As a result, you shouldn't worry too much about one-off readings, especially if your blood pressure is back to normal the next time you check it.
However, if your blood pressure is consistently at or higher than 140/90 mm Hg, you may want to consult with a doctor who can put you on a treatment plan, which usually involves a combination of healthy eating and exercise.
Medications may also be considered if lifestyle changes don't help, your blood pressure is very high, or you have risk factors such as diabetes or heart disease.
If you get a systolic reading of 180 or higher, or a diastolic reading of 110 or higher, wait a few minutes then check your blood pressure again. If it is still at that level, you need to contact emergency medical services immediately, as you may be suffering from a hypertensive crisis.