Understanding High Blood Pressure
What is high blood pressure? What are its signs and symptoms? What are its major health effects? These are all common questions that people who are affected by high blood pressure quite understandably seek the answers to.
In this section, we’ll cover the basics of high blood pressure (also known as arterial hypertension or more frequently, just hypertension) so that you’re more aware of the effects of this common health condition.
What is high blood pressure?
Whenever your heart pumps blood throughout your body, it exerts a certain amount of force on the walls of your arteries. The amount of force placed against the walls of your arteries is your blood pressure level.
For most people, their blood pressure level sits within the normal range. One out of three people in the United States, United Kingdom and other Western countries, on the other hand, has an elevated blood pressure level.
The excess pressure placed on the walls of your arteries by high blood pressure can cause damage to essential organs such as your heart and kidneys. It can also damage your blood vessels and many other essential parts of your body.
High blood pressure is an exceptionally common medical condition. A large number of people who are affected by high blood pressure remain unaware of the condition for years before being diagnosed after a blood pressure test.
How is high blood pressure measured?
What makes someone’s blood pressure too high? Blood pressure is measured in two different ways: systolic and diastolic pressure. Each of these measurements refers to a pressure reading at a different point in the heart’s activity:
- Systolic blood pressure is your blood pressure level measured as your heart is beating. Since it’s a measurement of your blood pressure as your heart is pumping blood throughout your body, it’s the highest value.
- Diastolic blood pressure is your blood pressure level measured when your heart is not beating. Since it’s a measurement of your blood pressure while your heart is at rest, it’s the lowest value.
Your blood pressure levels are measured using the systolic level and the diastolic level. A reading of 120/80 mmHg (mmHg refers to millimetres of mercury, which measures blood pressure) indicates the maximum “normal” blood pressure level.
Blood pressure levels are divided into four categories: Normal, Prehypertension, High Blood Pressure Stage 1 and High Blood Pressure Stage 2. More information on each category is provided below:
- Normal blood pressure levels in adults include a systolic (top level) of less than 120 and a diastolic (bottom level) of less than 80. For example, blood pressure of 105/70 mmHg is within the normal healthy adult range.
- Prehypertension blood pressure levels in adults include a systolic blood pressure level of 120-139 or a diastolic level of 80-89. Note that either of these levels – systolic or diastolic – can indicate prehypertension.
- Stage 1 high blood pressure levels in adults include a systolic blood pressure level of 140-159 or a diastolic level of 90-00. Note that either of these levels –systolic or diastolic – can indicate Stage 1 high blood pressure.
- Stage 2 high blood pressure levels in adults include a systolic blood pressure level of 160 or higher or a diastolic level of 100 or higher. Note that both of these levels – systolic or diastolic – can indicate Stage 2 high blood pressure.
What are your blood pressure numbers?
Do you know your blood pressure numbers? Checking your blood pressure is quick and simple; any local doctor can take your readings. If you would like to know more about your blood pressure, have your blood pressure levels checked today.