What Does High or Low Diastolic Blood Pressure Indicate?

Blood pressure reading involves upper, higher number, which is systolic blood pressure and lower, lesser number, which is diastolic blood pressure. Since many years, doctors have believed that high or low diastolic blood pressure is of great importance in assessing the risk of heart disease. High or low diastolic blood pressure indicates some disturbances in health and can be related to underlying heart disorders.

What Does High or Low Diastolic Blood Pressure Indicate?

High or Low Diastolic Blood Pressure

Ideally, blood pressure, is thought to be high or low when systolic and diastolic blood pressure are out of the normal range. However, there are certain conditions, when only the diastolic blood pressure may be high or low. This may indicate an underlying health problem or may indicate that there is an increased risk for certain heart disorders.

Diastolic blood pressure is measured when the heart is at rest and is being filled with blood. In short, diastolic blood pressure is the pressure in the arteries when the heart muscle is relaxing. The normal reading of ideal blood pressure is 120/80 mm of Hg, according to which, diastolic blood pressure is considered 80 mm of Hg. A slight variation of 70 mm Hg on the lower side and 90 mm of Hg on the higher side maybe seen in normal conditions. However, it may also suggest increased risk of high blood pressure (hypertension) or low blood pressure (hypotension).

Many medical conditions can influence the diastolic blood pressure and result in high or low diastolic blood pressure.

What Does High Diastolic Blood Pressure Indicate?

High diastolic blood pressure is diastolic pressure more than 80 mm of Hg. When the pressure is 80 to 90 mm of Hg, it may considered as pre-hypertension phase and shows an increased risk for high blood pressure in future. Raised diastolic blood pressure is termed as Isolated Diastolic Hypertension (IDH). It occurs when the systolic blood pressure is normal to low but diastolic pressure is above 90 mm of Hg. In any case, if diastolic blood pressure is higher, it can be considered as hypertension, irrespective of the systolic blood pressure.

Causes of high diastolic blood pressure can include underlying medical conditions like diabetes, obesity, dietary habits like high intake of cholesterol rich foods, salts or sugar and lifestyle preferences like smokingalcohol consumption and lack of physical activity. Sometimes, hereditary factors too play a role and when poor dietary and lifestyle choices are added to it, the result can be high diastolic blood pressure.

High diastolic pressure can cause difficulty in breathing, shortness of breath and affect the heart muscle making it stiff and not allowing it to contract and relax effectively. High diastolic pressure can indicate increased risk of chest painheart attack and heart failure, particularly diastolic heart failure. It can also cause damage to organs like kidneys, eyes, blood vessels and increase chances of hemorrhage and stroke.

A person may not always experience symptoms of high diastolic blood pressure, however, some people may experience headache, vision difficulties, dizziness, fatigue and nausea, in which case, seeking immediate medical care is essential.

High diastolic blood pressure is treated with medications aimed at maintaining the diastolic pressure below 90 mm of Hg. Lifestyle measures include reduced salt intake, limited intake of fats and sugars, diabetes control and weight management, regular physical exercise and quitting smoking and limiting alcohol consumption.

What Does Low Diastolic Blood Pressure Indicate?

Low diastolic blood pressure means pressure recorded below 70 mm of Hg. It is considered as low blood pressure or hypotension. It may be slightly low, a reading between 80 to 70 mm of Hg in some individuals and can be a normal finding. However, when the diastolic blood pressure falls below 70 mm of Hg, it can lead to health problems.

Raised or normal systolic pressure and low diastolic blood pressure means the difference in both or the pulse pressure is high. Low diastolic pressure can affect blood vessels causing stiffening of arteries and deposition of atherosclerotic plaques on the lining of arteries. It can sometimes cause death of cells due to insufficient blood supply and lack of sufficient oxygen (ischemia). Low diastolic blood pressure or diastolic hypotension may also indicate serious underlying medical conditions like malignancy or cardiomyopathy. Occasionally, diastolic pressure may indicate disturbance in dosing of anti-hypertensive drugs taken for the treatment of hypertension.

Low diastolic blood pressure may indicate underlying health concerns, which need to be evaluated and treated. Persistently low diastolic blood pressure can cause reduced blood flow to the major organs and can even cause damage to the heart, brain, kidneys and eyes. Some studies suggest that lower the diastolic blood pressure, greater is the risk of cardiovascular disease. Such cases need immediate aggressive medical treatment.

High as well as low diastolic blood pressure indicate that there can be an underlying heart disorder and both further increase the risk of cardiovascular disorders.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:May 25, 2017

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