The Health Reporter is in: Nov. 23, 2017

The Health Reporter is in: Nov. 23, 2017

Questions for veteran health reporter Deb Pressey? Click here and she'll chase down an answer.

Q: What's the difference between your blood pressure and your pulse?

Both pulse and blood pressure are indicators of cardiovascular health, but they measure different things and one isn't a good indicator of what's going on with the other, according to Christie Clinic cardiologist Dr. Batlagundu Lakshminarayanan.

The heart rate, also called pulse, measures how many times the heart beats per minute, and blood pressure measures the force of blood flow against the walls of the arteries.

A normal resting heart rate for adults is considered to be 60-100 beats a minute, but Lakshminarayanan said he prefers to see an upper limit of 90 beats a minute in his patients.

It's also not one count fits all. Some very fit people may have lower heart rates in the 40s, he said.

It's entirely possible to have a resting heart rate that's too high, and still have lower blood pressure, Lakshminarayanan said.

And if either heart rate or blood pressure rises, it doesn't necessarily follow that blood pressure will rise, too.

Anyone with a resting heart rate over 100, a potentially dangerous condition called tachycardia, should be talking to a doctor, Lakshminarayanan advised. The cause may be lifestyle-related, for example, anxiety or too much caffeine, but it could also be linked to an underlying health condition, such as a thyroid issue, he said.

Experts say normal blood pressure is below 120/80, and what's normal for each person may vary. But high blood pressure is considered more dangerous than low blood pressure because it raises the risk for heart disease and stroke.

The only accurate way to measure blood pressure is with a blood pressure monitor designed to do that.

Lakshminarayanan advises anyone with hypertension and adults over 50 to regularly monitor both their blood pressure and heart rates at home so they know where they stand, and let their doctors know what they're finding.

Check your blood pressure at home a couple of times a day, he said, and if it's normal at home, you don't need blood pressure treatment.