The chances are, you’ve had your blood pressure taken many times during your life. This simple test provides doctors with an important insight into your health.
Now, medics have access to a variety of sophisticated and highly accurate blood pressure monitors thanks to specialist healthcare equipment suppliers like Steroplast Healthcare. But what exactly are doctors looking for when they perform these tests, and what do the numbers mean? If you want to understand your blood pressure, keep reading.
What is it?
In short, blood pressure refers to the force your heart uses when it pumps blood around your body. As this fluid moves, it pushes against the sides of your blood vessels and it is the strength of this pressure that doctors measure.
How is it calculated?
You might have noticed that when you’re given a reading, you’re told two numbers. Both of these measurements are taken during a single heartbeat. The first is a reading of the level of pressure when your heart pumps blood through your arteries. Known as systolic pressure, this is when the force is at its highest. The second figure is a measure of pressure when your heart is resting and it’s called diastolic pressure. This is when the force is at its lowest.
The unit that blood pressure is measured in is millimetres of mercury (mmHg). If your systolic reading is 125mmHg and your diastolic reading is 85mmHg, then your overall figure would be 125 over 85, or 125/85.
Is your blood pressure a cause for concern?
Of course, these numbers in themselves don’t tell you much. You’ll no doubt want to know whether your readings are normal or a cause for concern. As a general guide, the ideal blood pressure for a healthy young adult is 120/80 or lower. If you consistently have a reading of 140/90 or above, you might have high blood pressure. Also referred to as hypertension, this can be cause for concern because it increases your risk of developing a number of health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease.
At the other end of the scale, if your reading is around 90/60 or below, you are considered to have low pressure (hypotension). In general, low readings are a good sign because they mean you are at a reduced risk of heart disease or stroke. However, hypotension can make people feel faint and dizzy. Some individuals have naturally low blood pressure, while others develop it as a result of medications they are taking or underlying health problems.
If you’re worried about your blood pressure or you want more information, it’s worth speaking to a medical professional.
Understanding your blood pressure