(CNN)When you visit the doctor, often the first order of business is wrapping a blood pressure cuff around your arm and looking to the display screen for the magic number. What's that number, you ask? Less than 120 over 80, or 120/80, measured in millimeters per mercury, is what has long been understood as within the healthy range — until now.
Why women should monitor blood pressure differently, according to a new study
If you're a woman, doctors may have been using the wrong metric for your blood pressure all along, according to a new study published February 15 in the journal Circulation.
The research looks at the first number, the systolic blood pressure, which indicates how much pressure your blood is creating against your artery walls when the heart beats.
While less than 120 millimeters per mercury may be within the normal range for men, the target systolic blood pressure for women should be less than 110 millimeters per mercury, the study found.
Heart disease is the top killer of Americans, a fact worth noting during American Heart Month. These results change the way we should look at what is considered normal blood pressure for women, said senior author Dr. Susan Cheng, director of the Institute for Research on Healthy Aging at Cedars-Sinai's Smidt Heart Institute in Los Angeles.