What Is the Difference Between Systolic and Diastolic Pressure?

difference-between-systolic-diastolic-pressure Credit: Hero Images/Hero Images/Getty Images

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, systolic blood pressure refers to the pressure blood exerts when the heart beats. Diastolic blood pressure refers to the pressure exerted on the blood vessel walls in between the time the heart beats.

Blood pressure measurements represents heart health and what is happening in the heart. When the heart is beating, it always has some kind of pressure occurring, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Systolic pressure refers to the pressure that occurs on the arterial wall when the heart pumps blood into the arteries. Diastolic pressure refers to the process when the heart relaxes and allows blood to fill its chambers. Blood pressure is usually recorded and written with the systolic pressure as the top number and diastolic pressure as the lower number.

According to the American Heart Association, a healthy blood pressure is 120 or less over 80 or less. High blood pressure is any number that is over 160/100, and any readings this high or higher should be treated by a physician. Anyone with a reading over 180/170 should seek emergency care. Managing blood pressure is important and exercise is just one way to help keep it under control. Avoiding sodium and eating a healthy diet are other ways to lower blood pressure numbers.