On a recent beautiful morning while I was taking my two-mile power walk, I was surprised when one of my companions asked, “What’s the story with those blood pressure numbers, what do they mean?” And, in fact, the other walker chimed in that it was a mystery to her as well.
Those are hugely important numbers, I explained, because when they’re consistently too high (hypertension), the result can be a stroke, a heart attack, kidney failure and even blindness. It’s also a “silent killer.” You can be walking around with very high blood pressures and feel perfectly fine.
What is the difference between the two numbers?
Let me first explain the two numbers: The higher recording, systole, occurs when the heart contracts. The lower number, diastole, occurs when the heart relaxes between beats.