What’s a normal reading?
For a normal reading, your blood pressure needs to show a top number (systolic pressure) that’s between 90 and less than 120 and a bottom number (diastolic pressure) that’s between 60 and less than 80. The American Heart Association (AHA) considers blood pressure to be within the normal range when both your systolic and diastolic numbers are in these ranges.
Blood pressure readings are expressed in millimeters of mercury. This unit is abbreviated as mm Hg. A normal reading would be any blood pressure below 120/80 mm Hg and above 90/60 mm Hg in an adult.
If you’re in the normal range, no medical intervention is needed. However, you should maintain a healthy lifestyle and healthy weight to help prevent hypertension from developing. Regular exercise and healthy eating can also help. You may need to be even more mindful of your lifestyle if hypertension runs in your family.
What is blood pressure?
When your heart beats, it pumps blood round your body to give it the energy and oxygen it needs. As the blood moves, it pushes against the sides of the blood vessels. The strength of this pushing is your blood pressure. If your blood pressure is too high, it puts extra strain on your arteries (and your heart) and this may lead to heart attacks and strokes.
How you can tell if you have high blood pressure
Having high blood pressure (hypertension) is not usually something that you feel or notice. It does not tend to produce obvious signs or symptoms. The only way to know what your blood pressure is, is to have it measured.
Blood pressure is measured in ‘millimetres of mercury’ (mmHg) and is written as two numbers. For example, if your reading is 120/80mmHg, your blood pressure is ‘120 over 80’.
What is high blood pressure?
You probably have high blood pressure (hypertension) if your blood pressure readings are consistently 140 over 90, or higher, over a number of weeks.
You may also have high blood pressure if just one of the numbers is higher than it should be over a number of weeks.
If you have high blood pressure, this higher pressure puts extra strain on your heart and blood vessels. Over time, this extra strain increases your risk of a heart attack or stroke.
High blood pressure can also cause heart and kidney disease, and is closely linked to some forms of dementia.
What is low blood pressure?
Many people worry about low blood pressure (hypotension), but probably don’t need to.
Some people have a blood pressure level that is lower than normal. In general this may be good news – because the lower your blood pressure is, the lower your risk of stroke or heart disease. However, in a few cases, having low blood pressure can cause problems, so you might need to speak to your doctor or nurse.
What causes low blood pressure?
Some people have a blood pressure level that is naturally low. That is, there is no specific cause or reason why. However, some health conditions or medicines can cause you to develop low blood pressure.
How is low blood pressure treated?
Most people with low blood pressure will not need treatment.
If your doctor or nurse feels that you would benefit from treatment, they will often try to find a cause for your low blood pressure. If they can find the cause, they should be able to decide on the most appropriate treatment for you.
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