10 May 2019
Blood pressure: A quick reference guide
Use our Blood Pressure Quick Reference Guide to help you understand the key facts and information about blood pressure and what it means for your long-term health.
Blood Pressure UK reports that approximately 16 million people in the UK have high blood pressure, but approximately one third of those people doesn’t even know they have it.
What is blood pressure?
Blood pressure is the pressure that your circulating blood places on the walls of your blood vessels as it travels around your body. If your blood pressure is too high, it puts your arteries and heart under extra strain and over time this could lead to serious conditions such as heart attack or stroke.
What do Systolic and Diastolic mean?
Blood pressure is measured with two numbers, like a fraction. The top number is your systolic pressure, which refers to the amount of pressure that is placed on your arteries as your heart muscle contracts.
The bottom number is your diastolic pressure and refers to the amount of pressure on your arteries in between heart beats.
If these numbers are too high, it indicates that your heart is working too hard to pump blood around your body. Low blood pressure can mean that not enough oxygenated blood is travelling around your body or reaching your heart.
What is healthy (normal) blood pressure?
In the UK, normal or healthy blood pressure is currently measured anywhere between 90/60 (90 over 60) and 120/80 (120 over 80).
High Blood Pressure – also referred to as Hypertension – is measured at 140/90 or higher.
Low Blood Pressure is a reading of 90/60 or less.
In 2017 the American Heart Association lowered their threshold for high blood pressure to 130/80 mmHG meaning almost half of American adults are now classed as living with high blood pressure. The UK may follow suit with this decision, any changes are expected to be announced in August 2019.
What are the symptoms of High Blood Pressure?
There are usually no obvious symptoms of Hypertension, which is why regular blood pressure checks are so important and often the only way to indicate a problem.
How can you lower your blood pressure?
The goal is to keep your blood pressure reading at a consistently healthy level and this can most often be achieved by making healthier lifestyle choices – the key focus being on diet and fitness.
Aim for a diet low in saturated fats, salt and processed sugars, and reduce your alcohol intake.
Read our blog post on how to lower blood pressure naturally for more tips on improving your diet.
Regular exercise helps your heart to stay healthier. Brisk walking, jogging, swimming and cycling will improve fitness without putting too much strain on your heart. A general recommendation is to exercise for at least 30 minutes, five days a week. It is always advisable to consult your doctor when increasing your physical activity.
When should you check blood pressure?
Regular checks will help you gain a better understanding of your blood pressure health and recognise any changes. You can request a check up with your GP or pharmacist, or use a monitor at home.
A home blood pressure monitor can help your family to become more aware of your readings. It is recommended that you take your readings at the same time of day to help maintain consistency. Take an average over several readings, avoid coffee or alcohol beforehand and make sure your heart is at rest – so don’t rely on a reading just after you get home from a run!
Our online Blood Pressure Tool (powered by the NHS) can be used to gain an understanding of your readings.
Which blood pressure monitor should I use?
Kinetik have a range of blood pressure monitors to suit your requirements. You can shop online to view the features of each, you may find our Blood Pressure Shopping Guide a helpful point of reference.
Blood Pressure information sources
Header image: © Syda Productions – stock.adobe.com
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