What Is the Difference Between Systole and Diastole?

Systolic blood pressure measures the arterial blood pressure due to contraction of the heart, whereas diastolic blood pressure is a measure of arterial pressure between heart contractions, according to WebMD. A blood pressure cuff is used to make the measurements; systolic pressure is measured first, followed by the diastolic pressure. All blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury.

Systolic blood pressure is normal when it is below 120. If systolic pressure falls between 120 and 139, it is considered representative of prehypertension, according to WebMD. A systolic blood pressure measurement above 140 is labeled high blood pressure or hypertension. Diastolic blood pressure is normal when it is below 80. A measurement between 80 and 89 is considered prehypertension, and a number above 90 is labeled as hypertension. Interpretation of these different components allows a health care worker to help determine the status of a patient’s cardiovascular health. Individuals with normal blood pressure should be checked every two years, whereas those who are considered prehypertensive should be checked annually.

Lifestyle changes are important in lowering blood pressure, explains the Mayo Clinic. Reducing dietary sodium, losing weight, exercising and eating a healthy diet all help. By doing this, the need for medication can be avoided.