What is blood pressure?


When your heart beats, it pumps blood round your body to give it the energy and oxygen it needs. As the blood moves, it pushes against the sides of the blood vessels. The strength of this pushing is your blood pressure. If your blood pressure is too high, it puts extra strain on your arteries (and your heart) and this may lead to heart attacks and strokes.

How you can tell if you have high blood pressure

Having high blood pressure (hypertension) is not usually something that you feel or notice. It does not tend to produce obvious signs or symptoms. The only way to know what your blood pressure is, is to have it measured.

Blood pressure is measured in 'millimetres of mercury' (mmHg) and is written as two numbers. For example, if your reading is 120/80mmHg, your blood pressure is '120 over 80'.


What do the numbers mean?

Every blood pressure reading consists of two numbers or levels. They are shown as one number on top of the other.

The first (or top) number is your systolic blood pressure. It is the highest level your blood pressure reaches when your heart beats.

The second (or bottom) number is your diastolic blood pressure. It is the lowest level your blood pressure reaches as your heart relaxes between beats.

Keep your blood pressure low

Even if you do not have high blood pressure at the moment, it is important to keep your blood pressure as low as you can. The higher your blood pressure, the higher your risk of health problems.

For example, a blood pressure of 135 over 85 may be "normal" but someone with this reading is twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke as someone with a reading of 115 over 75.


What is normal blood pressure?

Ideally, we should all have a blood pressure below 120 over 80 (120/80). This is the ideal blood pressure for people wishing to have good health. At this level, we have a much lower risk of heart disease or stroke.

If your blood pressure is optimal, this is great news. By following our healthy living advice, you will be able to keep it this way.
If your blood pressure is above 120/80mmHg, you will need to lower it.

Most adults in the UK have blood pressure readings in the range from 120 over 80 (120/80) to 140 over 90 (140/90). If your blood pressure is within this range, you should be taking steps to bring it down or to stop it rising any further. Our five top tips will show you how.

The reason why people with blood pressure readings in this range should lower it, even though this is not classified as 'high' blood pressure, is that the higher your blood pressure, the higher your risk of health problems. For example, someone with a blood pressure level of 135 over 85 (135/85) is twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke as someone with a reading of 115 over 75 (115/75).

For a blood pressure chart of readings, click here

 
M Junaid Tahir
www.DailyTenMinutes.com
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