What is Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure is a measure of the force that your heart uses to pump blood around your body.
When your blood pressure is taken, two measurements are recorded during a single heartbeat:
- Systolic pressure: the pressure when your heart pumps blood through arteries and around your body.
- Diastolic pressure: the pressure when your heart is resting.
If your systolic reading is 120mmHg and your diastolic reading is 80mmHg, your blood pressure is 120 over 80. This is commonly written as 120/80.
High, normal or low?
One reading alone cannot diagnose high blood pressure. It must be repeated over a period of time. If it is consistently higher than 140/80 then you may have high blood pressure. This increases your risk of developing some health conditions, including heart disease and stroke.
Generally, the lower your blood pressure, the healthier you are. As a guide, the ideal blood pressure for a young healthy adult is 120/80 or lower.
People with a reading of around 90/60 or lower, however, are generally considered to have low blood pressure. For some, there may be an underlying cause that could need treatment.
Get it checked
According to the British Hypertension Society, a usually healthy person should request to have his or her blood pressure first checked from the age of 20. If normal it should be taken every five years. If ever found to be abnormal it should be checked once a year from then on.
You can have your blood pressure checked by your GP/nurse practitioner or NICHS health promotion nurses.