Blood pressure for dummies
What is blood pressure?
Blood pressure is the pressure of the blood in your arteries as your heart pumps it around your body. Your blood pressure changes all the time, depending on what you are doing, your overall health, and even the air temperature.
How can I tell what my blood pressure is?
It is impossible to tell if you have high or low blood pressure without measuring it. There are no external signs of high blood pressure, and the symptoms of low blood pressure are quite general. To tell if your blood pressure is healthy you will need to go to your doctor and ask him or her to measure it for you.
How is blood pressure measured?
Blood pressure is measured by wrapping an inflatable pressure cuff around your upper arm. The cuff is attached to a machine called a sphygmomanometer, which measures your blood pressure through the cuff. The best way to get an accurate blood pressure reading is to take it while you are relaxed and sitting or lying down.
What do all the numbers mean?
Your blood pressure is recorded as two numbers, for example 120/80. This is read out as “120 over 80”. The larger number is called your systolic blood pressure. This refers to the pressure in your arteries as your heart pushes the blood through on each beat. The smaller number is called your diastolic blood pressure, and this is the pressure in your arteries as the heart relaxes before the next beat.
Is my blood pressure healthy?
There is no ‘ideal’ blood pressure reading, however, the following clinical classifications for blood pressure in adults can be useful.
Generally less than 120/80
Between 120/80 and 139/89
- Mild high
Between 140/90 and 159/99
- Moderate high
between 160/100 and 179/109
- Severe high
Equal to or greater than 180/110
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