Systolic vs. Diastolic: Which is More Important?

Systolic vs. Diastolic
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When blood pressure readings are taken, there are actually two readings that are used, systolic and diastolic, and these are used as a ratio. For instance, the top number, which should be the higher number, is known as systolic blood pressure.

The bottom number is the diastolic blood pressure. So, what are these measurements, and which is more important?

Today we are going to take a look at what these numbers mean, and the importance of each, so you can fully understand what you are looking at when you are taking your blood pressure readings.

Systolic vs. Diastolic 2

What do the Numbers Mean?

So, what exactly do those numbers mean? Let’s start with systolic blood pressure. This is the force that is generated within the arteries when the heart contracts (beats). This, along with diastolic, is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg).

Diastolic pressure is the pressure on the arteries between heartbeats, or in other words, when the heart is in the relaxed state. The systolic pressure is the higher number, which is on top, and diastolic is the lower number. An ideal reading would be 120 over 80.

Which Number is More Important?

Now you know what the differences are between the two numbers, and what they mean. But, which number is more important? How do they differ from one another? To begin, if either number is too high, it can be a serious health risk, for a variety of reasons.

If the systolic reading is high, there is a higher risk of heart attacks and heart disease. A high diastolic reading is linked to a higher risk of heart disease in the aorta, and can lead to an abdominal aortic aneurysm. This can be corrected if caught early, but it can be fatal if not detected.

While it is not safe for either of these numbers to be high, the one you really need to worry about is the systolic reading.

Systolic High Blood Pressure

If you have high systolic blood pressure, there is a lot of pressure on the arteries’ inner walls, which can lead to permanent damage. Not only does this cause heart problems, it can also lead to problems with other organs.

This is because the damage caused by this type of high blood pressure causes plaque to accumulate in the artery walls, which inhibits the flow of blood to the other organs, including the brain. This causes an increased risk of the rupturing of the plaque, causing a clot which can be deadly. This type of high blood pressure can lead to heart attacks and strokes, and as noted, can damage other organs.

Systolic vs. Diastolic 3

The systolic reading, or the upper numbers, is the one that is most associated with heart disease. But, when it comes to your health, you really do need to pay attention to both numbers.

Even if your blood pressure is only elevated a little bit, it can get worse and lead to some pretty serious health issues. But, you can lower your blood pressure with diet and exercise. In some cases, it may require medical intervention in the form of blood pressure medication.

What Causes High Blood Pressure?

Do you have a family history of high blood pressure? If so, you may think that you are automatically going to have this health issue yourself. But, there is a lot more at play than just family history when it comes to high blood pressure.

Yes, it does tend to run in families, but your lifestyle will also play a part in whether or not you will have high blood pressure, even if there is a family history. For instance, if you do not follow a healthy, well-balanced diet, it can lead to a number of health issues, including high blood pressure.

The DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is recommended by medical professionals. This involves eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy (low-fat), and legumes, and cutting back on red meat, sugars, and processed foods to help control cholesterol levels.

This diet involves eating a lot of plant-based foods that can help to lower and control your blood pressure. It is also recommended that you get plenty of aerobic exercise, because it helps to relax the blood vessels and improve their functionality.


When it comes to your overall health, it is important to monitor your blood pressure regularly, and it is important to understand both numbers. If you are concerned with heart disease, both values are important. If you are worried about high blood pressure, the systolic number is the one you need to pay the most attention to.

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