High Diastolic Blood Pressure Meaning

If you’ve noticed the lower number on your blood pressure measurements has been high lately, your curiosity may be piqued. Common thoughts may be, is it too high or should I be worried? Therefore, let’s answer the question, what does it mean when the diastolic blood pressure number is high?

A high diastolic blood pressure number means the pressure against the artery walls is increased when the heart is relaxed. A consistently high diastolic number of 80 mmHg or more increases the risk of higher systolic blood pressure, ischemic heart disease and stroke as a person ages.

This article will explain details everyone should know about high diastolic blood pressure. I’ll inform you what the different diastolic numbers indicate, causes, consequences and ways to lower it.

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High Diastolic Blood Pressure Ranges

Diastolic has different blood pressure ranges depending on what your numbers are 1. There are fine lines between normal, elevated and high. Let’s take a look at the numbers and find out, what is considered high diastolic blood pressure?

High diastolic blood pressure is a diastolic number 80 mmHg or more. High Blood Pressure Stage 1 is a diastolic number between 80-89 mmHg. High Blood Pressure Stage 2 is a diastolic number 90 mmHg or higher. Hypertensive Crisis is a diastolic number 121 mmHg or higher.

The diastolic numbers and ranges are listed in the blood pressure chart below 2.

Notice each of the high diastolic ranges is irregardless of the systolic blood pressure number. The normal and elevated ranges require both the systolic and diastolic number to fall into each range indicated with the word and.

Diastolic High Blood Pressure Stage 1

High diastolic blood pressure is between 80-89 mmHg. Typically, doctors will recommend lifestyle changes and may consider prescribing medicine based on the risk of cardiovascular disease 3.

Diastolic High Blood Pressure Stage 2

High diastolic blood pressure is 90 mmHg or higher. Doctors are likely to recommend lifestyle changes and medication 4.

Diastolic Hypertensive Crisis

High diastolic blood pressure is higher than 120 mmHg. Diastolic blood pressure over 120 mmHg requires medical assistance.

If you take your blood pressure and either number is 180/120 or greater, wait about 5 minutes and take it again. If the 2nd reading is just as high and you are not experiencing any of the following symptoms, then contact your doctor and be guided by them:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Back pain
  • Numbness/weakness
  • Change in vision
  • Difficulty breathing

If your numbers indicate a hypertensive crisis and you are experiencing one of the above symptoms you must go to a hospital immediately. The consequences of a hypertensive crisis can be severe or fatal 5.

Learn more about Hypertensive Crisis and all the other BP categories in my article, What Is The Blood Pressure Chart? All Five BP Categories.

What Causes High Diastolic Blood Pressure?

Having a diastolic number consistently high is going to bring up some common questions. You’re probably wondering, why is my bottom blood pressure number high?

The bottom blood pressure number can be high for the following reasons:

  • Age
  • Family history
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Pain and chronic pain.
  • Unhealthy diet
  • High cholesterol
  • Lack of sleep or sleep apnea
  • Obesity
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Bad habits like excess alcohol, smoking or illegal drugs.

Can stress and anxiety cause high diastolic blood pressure? Stress and anxiety can cause high diastolic blood pressure. Stress activates the sympathetic nervous system which increases the heart rate and constricts the blood vessels.

How does pain cause high diastolic blood pressure? Pain increases diastolic blood pressure for the following reasons:

  • The activation of the sympathetic nervous system.
  • The heart rate increases.
  • Blood vessels constrict.
  • Adrenaline is released.
  • Cortisol is released.
  • Certain pain medications can raise blood pressure and reduce the effect of blood pressure medication.

In studies, pain has been shown to increase diastolic blood pressure by 10 mmHg. After the pain was relieved, diastolic blood pressure returned to normal 6.

Obesity and excess weight have been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure.

An unhealthy diet leads to excess weight and obesity. In addition, it contains high sodium, added sugar, saturated and trans fats 7.

In addition to increasing diastolic blood pressure, regular use of excess alcohol and illegal drugs can cause heart failure, stroke and an irregular heartbeat 8.

Smoking can temporary increase blood pressure. In the long-term, it can contribute to damaged blood vessels which affect blood pressure 9.

Sleep apnea may increase the risk of developing high blood pressure and is common in people with resistant hypertension.

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High Diastolic Blood Pressure Consequences

You may have noticed the diastolic pressure has been high more often than normal. A frequent question to ask is, should I worry if my diastolic is high?

Having a consistent high diastolic number is a concern. High diastolic pressure increases the risk of developing high systolic blood pressure as a person ages. Higher diastolic pressure increases the risk of death from ischemic heart disease and stroke.

High diastolic pressure alone may be used to determine a diagnosis of high blood pressure.

Previous studies of more than one million people have shown increased risks with higher diastolic numbers. The results involved individuals aged 40 to 89 years. For every 10 mmHg increase in diastolic pressure, the risk of mortality from ischemic heart disease and stroke doubled 10.

In addition, the Framingham Heart Study examined 6,859 people who were initially free of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.  They compared people with blood pressure between 130-139/85-89 mmHg to people with less than 120/80 mmHg.

The individuals with higher systolic and diastolic pressure doubled their risk of cardiovascular disease 11.

How To Lower Diastolic Blood Pressure

The following are ways to lower diastolic blood pressure:

  • Perform physical activity consisting of cardiovascular and resistance exercises.
  • Perform relaxation techniques like breathing exercises.
  • Consume heart healthy food.
  • Maintain a healthy weight and waistline.
  • Take blood pressure medications as prescribed.
  • Reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Achieve the proper amount of sleep.
  • Avoid bad habits like smoking, excess alcohol or illegal drugs.

Most of the techniques listed above will improve blood pressure over the long-term 12. Some people would prefer seeing instant results and ask, how can I lower my diastolic blood pressure quickly?

Lower diastolic quickly by doing the following:

  • Perform a breathing exercise.
  • Drink calming drinks like hibiscus tea.
  • Activate a pressure point.
  • Take a warm bath.
  • Meditate.
  • Receive a massage.
  • Perform a self-massage.
  • Take a blood pressure medication as prescribed.
  • Move to a room with comfortable temperature.
  • Drink pomegranate juice.

If you have high BP and don’t have a doctor or the correct health plan for you, you may want to check out a health plan service I recommend. They can get a plan fitting your situation and affordable. Visit the eHealth Insurance website for more information.

Read Next – More BP Category Articles!

Isolated Systolic Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)

What The Numbers In A Blood Pressure Reading Mean

Systolic Blood Pressure

Diastolic Blood Pressure

High Blood Pressure Stage 2 – The More Serious High BP Range

Article Resources: Blood Pressure Explained follows strict guidelines to ensure our content is the highest journalistic standard. It's our mission to provide the reader with accurate, honest and unbiased guidance. Our content relies on medical associations, research institutions, government agencies and study resources. Learn more by reading our editorial policy.
  1. American Heart Association: What is High Blood Pressure?[]
  2. Harvard Health: Reading the new blood pressure guidelines[]
  3. American Heart Association: Understanding Blood Pressure Readings[]
  4. American College of Cardiology: New ACC/AHA High Blood Pressure Guidelines Lower Definition of Hypertension[]
  5. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Hypertensive Crisis[]
  6. American Physiology Society: Cold stress and the cold pressor test[]
  7. Journal Circulation: Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics-2019 Update: A Report From the American Heart Association[]
  8. American Heart Association: Illegal Drugs and Heart Disease[]
  9. CDC: High Blood Pressure[]
  10. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Blood Pressure and Cardiovascular Risk[]
  11. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Impact of high-normal blood pressure risk of cardiovascular disease[]
  12. Harvard Health: Stress raising your blood pressure? Take a deep breath[]

Kevin Garce

Kevin Garce is a Certified Health Coach who encourages people by informing them on blood pressure topics important to them. His years of research and knowledge inspire people to achieve their goals. Read more here About Me

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