What does my blood pressure reading actually mean?

Published on January 12, 2018

We’re kicking off our Kinetik Winter Wellbeing Guide with a look at why healthy blood pressure is so important to your overall health.

You might be used to having your blood pressure checked by health professionals, but do you actually understand what those two numbers on the machine mean?  And do you know what your blood pressure reading should be, in order to stay as healthy as possible?

Let’s start from the beginning…

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.

What is high blood pressure – or Hypertension?

If your blood pressure is high, it puts extra strain onto your arteries and your heart as they try to move the blood around your body.  Over time, the strain of high blood pressure can cause the arteries to become thicker and less flexible – or it can cause them to weaken – which is bad news for your body.

Hypertension is diagnosed when your blood pressure is consistently high.  Hypertension is often labelled as a ‘silent killer’ because it has no noticeable side effects.  Taking your blood pressure regularly is the best way to manage it.

What does high blood pressure mean for me?

Hypertension can lead to a number of health conditions, the most severe being:
* Heart attack or heart failure
* Heart disease
* Stroke
* Aortic Aneurysms
* Diabetes

The list is longer but these are the most serious conditions caused by high blood pressure.

What is low blood pressure?

Low blood pressure or Hypotension doesn’t always cause symptoms but you may need to seek treatment if it causes any of the following:

  • Light-headedness or dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Blurred vision
  • Fainting or feeling weak in general

How can I tell if my blood pressure is too high or too low?

The best indicator to your blood pressure is by taking regular readings.  This can be done by your GP or pharmacist, or at a drop-in session, but the best and most convenient way for many people is by taking regular readings with a blood pressure monitor, at home.  You can record your readings and if you notice an irregularity, you can take them to your GP.

What should my blood pressure be?

Your blood pressure is made up of two numbers.  The top number (which should be the highest) is your systolic blood pressure.  This is the highest pressure placed by your blood onto your blood vessels as your heart pushes it around your body.

The bottom number (which is usually the lower number) is your diastolic blood pressure.  This is the lowest pressure when your heart is relaxing between beats.

In the UK, a healthy blood pressure reading is considered to be between 90 / 60 (90 over 60) and 120/80 (120 over 80).

In the UK, a blood pressure reading of 140/90 or more is considered high, and you may need to visit your doctor to diagnose Hypertension.  A reading of less than 90/60 indicates low blood pressure.

How can I monitor my blood pressure at home?

When taking your blood pressure at home, don’t rely on one single reading – this is merely a snapshot of your current blood pressure.  The best advice is to take several readings and make a note of the results.  Measure your blood pressure at the same time every day and always when you heart is at rest – so not straight after you’ve left the gym!  It is also advisable to avoid excessive caffeine just before you take a reading – and alcohol too.

Kinetik Blood Pressure Monitors have a built in memory so you can record your most recent readings.  You can also track your readings over time with our free Kinetik Health Sense App which is available for iOS and Android.

When should I start monitoring my blood pressure?

Ideally, everyone should take a keen interest in their blood pressure – as it is so key to maintaining your health and wellbeing.

So our advice for your wellbeing this winter is, a Healthy Heart = a Healthy Start!

Information sources: NHS, Blood Pressure UK, British and Irish Hypertension Society