Every time I go to donate blood, or see a doctor in general, they take my blood pressure. It’s been going on for ages and every time, tell me some numbers over some other numbers and I have no ideae what they mean! They always tell me that my blood pressure is normal, so I’ve never worried about it, but recently my husband was told he has high blood pressure and we’re getting it under control. So I’ve decided I need to know more about blood pressure and what these numbers mean.
So blood pressure is measuring the pressure of the blood in the arteries, which is being controled by the pumping of the heart. Blood pressure in the arteries increases when the heart squeezes and pushes more blood through them. It then decreases when the heart relaxes and pulls more blood into it. The top number of blood pressure measurements is when the heart squeezes (systole) and the bottom is when it relaxes (diastole).
It’s preferred that you have a blood pressure level under 120/80 mmHg (which, weirdly enough, is millimeters of mercury). Between 120/80 mmHg and 139/89 mmHg is still normal, but your starting to push it and should probably consider some lifestyle changes. High blood pressure is anything over 140/90 mmHg and is when your heart and arteries can become overworked. Plaque can build up and clog an artery and cause a heart attack or even a stroke. Long term high blood pressure is also a risk factor for heart disease.
There is no exact cause for blood pressure, but there are a few things that factor into it:
- Being overweight
- Not getting enough physical activity
- Drinking more than 2 alcoholic drinks per day
- Old age
- Family history of high blood pressure
Other than aging and family history, most of these issues can be addressed. If you have any questions, your doctor should be able to help you. So make sure you attend your regular check ups.