Blood Pressure

You don’t always have to go to your doctor’s office to have your blood pressure checked; you can monitor your own blood pressure at home. This is especially important if your doctor recommends that you monitor your blood pressure on a regular basis.

What is Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure is simply a measure of the pressure of your blood in the arteries as your heart is pumping it around your body. You may have heard of phrases like 140 over 90. So what does that mean.

The first figure, in this case 140 called systolic blood pressure, while the second figure 90 is called the diastolic blood pressure.

Systolic Blood Pressure

Systolic (siss-tol-ick) blood pressure is a measure of the pressure as the heart pumps blood into the arteries when it beats.

Diastolic Blood Pressure

Diastolic (die-a-stollic) pressure is the smaller number. It is the pressure when the heart is at rest, between beats.

What is normal blood pressure?

As more clinical studies show the damaging effects of high blood pressure, health authorities are now recommending that we should aim for a reading of 130/80 (mmHg). Your doctor will advise you of what you should be aiming for.

Why measure blood pressure?

The National Heart Foundation beleives that self measured blood pressure readings can help provide doctors with a more complete and accurate picture of your health.

The readings taken at home or work are usually lower than those taken in the doctors surgery for several reason. Firstly, there is an effect called “white coat hypertension”. In this situation, the blood pressure of some patients goes up in the presence of a doctor, giving an artificially high reading.

Secondly, it is not uncommon for patients to feel rushed or anxious when attending the surgery. In an ideal world, you would sit quietly for 5 minutes before having your blood pressure taken, and then the process would be repeated to ensure a consistent, accurate reading.