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Blood Pressure

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High blood pressure affects over 16 million people in the UK. The higher your blood pressure, the greater your risk of stroke, heart attack and heart failure

Blood pressure (BP) is the balance between the amount of blood that your heart pumps out over a given time and the resistance of the blood vessels to that flow.  For example, if you put your finger over half of the end of a garden hosepipe, the water will spray over a greater distance.  This is due to the increase in water pressure from you applying more resistance.  The same is true in your body.  Blood pressure is measured by comparing the systolic pressure (the high pressure which occurs when your heart contracts, forcing blood out) against the diastolic pressure (the lower pressure which occurs when your heart is refilling).

  • The systolic pressure is the maximum pressure in an artery at the moment when the heart is beating and pumping blood through the body. 
  • The diastolic pressure is the lowest pressure in an artery in the moments between beats when the heart is resting. 

Optimal blood pressure is approximately 120/80. If your blood pressure is above optimal, making changes to your diet and lifestyle may help to control your blood pressure High blood pressure rarely has any symptoms. The only way to know if you have high blood  pressure is to have it measured. Hypertension can be defined as having a reading of 140/90 mmHg or more ie, a systolic of 140 or more, a diastolic of 90 or more, or both.

 

Blood PressureThere is no agreed definition of low blood pressure even though doctors agree that a blood pressure reading of 90/60mmHg for someone with usually higher blood pressure measurements warrants medical observation of signs of low blood pressure.

Regular physical activity has shown to reduce blood pressure It is estimated that by being active people can reduce their risk of developing high blood pressure by up to 30%. Research has shown that being physically active can reduce systolic blood pressure by between 4-9 mm Hg. Physical activity can have an immediate effect in reducing your blood pressure. Lasting effects can be expected after as little as three weeks. With regular and on-going activity, you can expect to see a lower and more stable blood pressure within three months.

Blood pressure is an accurate method of assessing an individual’s risk in developing coronary heart disease (CHD). When taking your blood pressure, ensure that the following steps are undertaken

  • You are seated, calm and relaxed for at least 5mins
  • Apply the blood pressure device on the left arm in contact with the skin. This could be either a cuff on the top of the arm or a wrist-monitoring device.
  • Ensure the wrist is level with the heart. If the fingers touch their shoulder then they are in the correct position.
  • Whilst the blood pressure is being taken remain relaxed and ask them not to speak.
  • Following completion of the assessment the blood pressure device will normally display three readings
    • Systolic Pressure (mmHg)
    • Diastolic Pressure (mmHg)
    • Resting Heart Rate (mmHg)

 

Systolic

Diastolic

Optimal

<120

<80

Normal

120-129

80-84

High normal

130-139

85-89

Stage 1 mild Hypertension

140-159

90-99

Stage 2 moderate hypertension

160-179

100-109

Stage 3 Sever hypertension

≥180

≥110

Isolated Systolic Hypertension

≥140

<90

Diabetes
 Normal  <139 <79
 Hypertension  >140 >80