By the way, doctor: Is the difference between the two blood pressure numbers important?

Published: December, 2009

Q. I'm 72 and my systolic blood pressure has been between 115 and 125 and pretty steady. The diastolic number is low (55–65) and seems to be falling. Is the difference between these two numbers important, and is the falling diastolic number something to worry about?

A. The systolic pressure represents the blood pressure against the vessel walls when the heart is pumping blood. Starting at about age 60, it becomes the most important predictor of cardiovascular problems like stroke and heart disease. You should feel very good about your systolic blood pressure, which is in a fine range.

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