What is Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure is the pressure of the blood in the arteries as the heart pumps it around the body.
Blood pressure is usually measured by wrapping an inflatable pressure cuff around the upper arm. The cuff is connected to a pressure measuring device called a sphygmomanometer. It is best to measure blood pressure when you are relaxed and sitting or lying down.
Blood pressure is recorded as two numbers, for example, 120/80. The larger number indicates the pressure in the arteries as the heart squeezes out blood during each beat. It is called the systolic blood pressure. The lower number indicates the pressure as the heart relaxes before the next beat. It is called the diastolic blood pressure.
Blood pressure does not stay the same all the time. It is always changing to meet our body's needs. If a reading is high, your doctor will measure your blood pressure again on several occasions to confirm the level. Your doctor may also recommend that you measure your blood pressure at home or take a recording with a monitoring device. If the blood pressure remains high it can cause serious problems like a heart attack, a stroke, heart failure or kidney disease.
High blood pressure usually does not have warning signs. You can have high blood pressure and feel perfectly well. The only way to find out if your blood pressure is high is by having it checked regularly.
Smoking, high blood cholesterol, being overweight and Diabetes all increase the risks of serious problems associated with high blood pressure.
|'Blood Pressure' fact sheet [pdf]||Download|