Blood Pressure: What’s in a Number? The term high blood pressure is now almost common place within the English language, and if you were to ask someone if they knew what high blood pressure was the likelihood is that they could probably tell you what it may lead would they actually know the numbers?
Within the UK population it is estimated that approximately 10million people suffer from high blood ‘s one person in every five. So what is high blood pressure?
The easiest way to think about how high blood pressure occurs is to visualise the heart as a ?pump?. The heart pumps blood through our arteries and out into our muscles and organs, and as with all pumps, this is achieved by generating pressure. Therefore if there is too much pressure put on the heart this can cause arteries to rupture and the heart to fail under the strain.
Your blood pressure therefore depends on a combination of two factors and these are how forcefully the heart pumps blood around your body and how relaxed, or narrow, your arteries are. When blood is forced through your arteries at an increased pressure then hypertension occurs.
So, what is high blood pressure?
Whether you have had your measurement taken by your local GP or whether you have one of the many blood pressure monitors that are available to be used at home, you may recall seeing two numbers on the screen. These two figures relate to the systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Systolic blood pressure is the maximum pressure in the arteries when the heart beats (contracts|) and pushes blood out into the body;
Diastolic blood pressure is the minimum pressure in the arteries between beats when the heart relaxes to fill up with blood.
A typically normal blood pressure reading is quoted as 120 over 80, which means your systolic blood pressure reading is 120, whilst the diastolic reading is 80. There are various factors that need to be taken into account when you are measuring your blood pressure and these include:
?ï¿½ You should take more than one measurement to obtain an accurate figure;
?ï¿½ You should try and take your blood pressure at the same time each day
?ï¿½ You should try and be rested for at least 5 minutes before taking your blood pressure
?ï¿½ You should avoid eating or exercise immediately prior to taking your reading
You should also be aware that when having your blood pressure taken at the doctors you can suffer from ?white coat hypertension? which in effect means that you may give a slightly higher reading because you become anxious of the environment you are in.
So we know the target number 120 over 80, what is classed as a high blood pressure reading? In general terms if your reading is consistently over 160 and/or your diastolic pressure is over 100 then you should consult your doctor.
What if your reading is lower, surely the lower the better….WRONG. People with slightly lower blood pressure for example 140 over 90 may also need treatment. It is essential that if you are at all worried about the reading that you get from measuring your blood pressure you should consult your Doctor immediately.
Don’t risk your sure you monitor your blood pressure and know your numbers!
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