Blood pressure – Meaning
When the heart is beating, it pumps blood round the body to give it the energy and oxygen it needs. As the blood moves round the body it pushes against the sides of the blood vessels. Blood pressure is the strength of this pushing. If the blood pressure is too high, it puts extra pressure on the arteries and the heart which may lead to heart attacks and strokes.
How to tell if having high blood pressure
Having high blood pressure or hypertension is not usually something that is felt and noticed. It does not tend to generate obvious signs or symptoms. The only way to know about what the blood pressure is, is to measure it.
Blood pressure is calculated in ‘millimeters of mercury’ (mmHg) and is written as two numbers. For example, if the reading is 120/80mmHg, the blood pressure is ‘120 over 80’.
What do the numbers mean?
Two numbers or levels are presented in every blood pressure reading. They are shown as one number on the top of the other.
The first number or top number is the systolic blood pressure. Systolic blood pressure is the highest level the blood pressure which reaches when the heart beats.
The second number or bottom number is the diastolic blood pressure. Diastolic blood pressure is the lowest level the blood pressure which reaches as the heart relaxes between beats.
Keeping blood pressure low
at the moment if not having high blood pressure, it is vital to keep the blood pressure as low as possible. The higher the blood pressure, the higher is the risk of health problems.
For example, a blood pressure reading of 135 over 85 may be normal but someone with this reading is two times as likely to have a heart attack or stroke as someone with a reading of 115 over 75.
Blood pressure chart
Use the blood pressure chart to see what the blood pressure reading means. The blood pressure chart is acceptable for adults of any age.
There are two numbers in blood pressure readings, for example 140/90mmHg.
The top number is the systolic blood pressure and the bottom one is the diastolic blood pressure.
The below mentioned blood pressure chart shows ranges of readings with high, low and healthy blood pressure.
Blood pressure chart for adults
Blood pressure readings – Meaning
As it can be seen from the blood pressure chart, to count the blood pressure as low or high only one of the numbers has to be higher or lower than it should be:
- 90 over 60 (90/60) or less: May be having low blood pressure.
- More than 90 over 60 (90/60) and less than 120 over 80 (120/80): the blood pressure reading is ideal and healthy. To keep it at this level try following a healthy lifestyle.
- More than 120 over 80 and less than 140 over 90 (120/80-140/90): Blood pressure reading is normal but it is a little higher than it should be, and it should be lowered. Healthy changes to the lifestyle should be made.
- 140 over 90 (140/90) or higher (over a number of weeks): Blood pressure reading indicates having high blood pressure also known as hypertension. Lifestyle should be changed. Doctor or nurse should be consulted and any medicines suggested might be taken.
- If the number on top is 140 or more – then regardless of the bottom number, the blood pressure may be high.
- If the bottom number is 90 or more – then regardless the top number, the blood pressure may be high.
- If the top number is 90 or less – then regardless of the bottom number, the blood pressure may be low.
- If the bottom number is 60 or less – regardless of the top number, the blood pressure might be low.
A blood pressure should be below 120 over 80 (120/80) ideally. This blood pressure is ideal for people who wish to have good health. At this level, the risk of heart diseases or stroke is lower
If the blood pressure is optimal, this is positive news. By following the advice which is healthy living, then it will be kept this way
If the blood pressure is above 120/80mmHg, it will need to be lowered.
Most of the adults in the UK have blood pressure readings ranging from 120 over 80 (120/80) to 140 over 90 (140/90). If the blood pressure is ranging within this, steps should be taken to bring it down or to stop it rising any further.
Even though this range is not characterized as high blood pressure but people falling under this range of blood pressure should lower it, as the higher the blood pressure, the higher is the risk of health problems.
High blood pressure – Additional causes
There are some factors that increase the risk of having high blood pressure, which you cannot be controlled. These include:
- Age: as getting older, the effects of an unhealthy lifestyle can build up and the blood pressure can increase.
- Ethnic origin: people from communities such as African-Caribbean and South Asian are at greater risk of having high blood pressure than other people.
- Family history: the risk might be great if there is family history of blood pressure
Some people may have high blood pressure that is connected with another medical condition, such as kidney problems. Treating the medical condition may lower the blood pressure back to normal for these people
What is low blood pressure?
Low blood pressure (hypotension) creates worry in many people, but probably don’t need to.
Some people may have a blood pressure level that is lower than normal. Generally this may be good news because the lower the blood pressure is, the lower is the risk of getting a stroke or heart disease. However, in some cases, having low blood pressure can be a cause of some problems, doctor or nurse should be consulted
Low blood pressure reading
A low blood pressure reading is having a level that is 90/60mm Hg, or lower reading is considered as low blood pressure.
Only one of the numbers has to be lower than it generally is, counted as low blood pressure. In other words:
- if the number on top is 90 or less (regardless of the bottom number) this may be considered as low blood pressure
- if the number at bottom is 60 or less (regardless of the top number) this may be considered as low blood pressure.
Low blood pressure – Causes
Some people naturally have a blood pressure level which is low. That is, there is no particular cause or reason why.
However, some health conditions or medicines can act as a cause to develop low blood pressure.
Low blood pressure is dangerous or not
Having low blood pressure usually is not a cause for concern. But sometimes feeling of being faint and dizziness may be caused when the blood pressure can drop to a point.
If blood pressure is suddenly found much lower than usual, there may be a reason for this. Speak to the doctor or nurse.
Low blood pressure treatment
Treatment will not be needed for most people who have low blood pressure
If treatment is considered as beneficial then the doctor or nurse may find a cause for the low blood pressure. If the cause of low blood pressure is found, they should be able to decide on the most appropriate treatment.
High blood pressure (hypertension) – What it can do
High blood pressure (hypertension) puts extra pressure on the heart and blood vessels which can cause them to become weaker or damaged.
The higher the blood pressure, the higher is the risk of serious health problems in the future. A number of ways are there where high blood pressure can affect the body:
- Heart: high blood pressure can be a cause for a heart attack and can also cause heart failure.
- Brain: high blood pressure is a leading cause of strokes. It has also been closely connected to some types of dementia.
- Kidneys: kidney disease can be caused by high blood pressure
- Limbs: high blood pressure can cause peripheral arterial disease, which can affect your legs.
If other health conditions are also present, such as diabetes or high cholesterol, this increases the risk of health problems even more. It is then even more crucial to lower your high blood pressure.
Having an unhealthy lifestyle will raise the blood pressure over time. And the higher the blood pressure becomes, the higher is the risk of having a stroke or heart attack in the future.
But the positive news is that if having a high blood pressure, healthy changes will help in bringing it down. To make healthy lifestyle changes it is not necessary to wait until to have a high blood pressure. The more the blood pressure is reduced, the lower is the risk of a heart attack or stroke will be.
Blood pressure monitoring by using a home blood pressure monitor can be a useful way of seeing what the blood pressure is like in the daily life. For accurate readings, it is vital to use the right monitor and the right technique.
Home blood pressure monitor – What to use
If measurement of blood pressure is conducted at home then it is important to choose the right home monitor. Automatic Home blood pressure monitor which is chosen should be made sure that it is clinically validated. This means that it has been tested and gives outcomes which can be trusted