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Blood pressure measurement consists of systolic and diastolic readings, and may be influenced by a number of factors such as diet, medication, weight, physical activity, alcohol, smoking, stress, and the intake of various dietary supplements. Research has been shown that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, with reduced total fat to include saturated fat and low-fat dairy products can significantly reduce hypertension (high blood pressure), even if body weight and sodium intake is constant.[1][2] The top number (systolic reading) is the pressure produced by the heart on the blood vessels as it pumps to the body, or when the heart beats during the systole phase.[3] The bottom number (diastolic reading) is the minimum pressure within the arteries through a full cardiac cycle, or when the heart relaxes during the diastole phase.[3] Normal systolic pressure ranges from 120 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) to 130mmHg. Normal diastolic pressure ranges from 80mmHg to 85mmHg[4]. Blood pressure is measured using a sphygmomanometer (blood pressure cuff). Blood pressure cuff simulators are used by healthcare professionals to practice blood pressure measurement and assessment.


  1. American College of Sports Medicine (2002). ACSM's Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription, 6th ed., Philadelphia, PA: Williams & Wilkins. 
  2. Appel LJ, Moore TJ, Obarzanek E, et al. (1997). "A clinical trial of the effects of dietary patterns on blood pressure.". N Engl J Med 16: 1-8.
  3. 3.0 3.1 unknown. (n.d.). Blood Vessels. The Franklin Institute. Retrieved on 2008-09-29.
  4. National Academy of Sports Medicine (2004). Optimum Performance Training for the Health and Fitness Professional, 2nd ed., Calabasas, CA: NASM.