High blood pressure:Do you know your blood pressure numbers?

High blood pressure or hypertension is a common disease affecting about one in four people. It is also called the silent killer disease because sometimes there are no symptoms till complications like stroke, kidney failure, and heart disease set in.

What is blood pressure?

Blood carries oxygen and nutrients around the body through blood vessels called arteries. Blood pressure is the force of the blood against the arteries. Blood pressure is recorded as two numbers. The top number is known as the systolic pressure. This is the pressure of the arteries when the heart beats or contracts. The bottom number is the diastolic pressure. This is the pressure of the arteries when the heart is resting in between beats. A sample blood pressure reading will be 120/80 mm mercury.   

What are healthy blood pressure numbers?

According to the American heart association, blood pressure recommendations are as follows:

Normal blood pressure               systolic     less than 120
                                                      diastolic    less than   80

Prehypertension                         systolic      120 - 139
                                                     diastolic       80 -   90

Hypertension                               systolic      140 and above
                                                     diastolic       90 and above

Blood pressure changes from minute to minute depending on your posture, exercise ,stress or sleep. So if your doctor gets a single high reading, he will likely take several readings over time before a diagnosis of high blood pressure is given. If you monitor your blood pressure at home and your blood pressure numbers are high, rest for a few minutes and then repeat the blood pressure reading to get accurate readings.

It is recommended that persons aged 20 and above, take their blood pressure at every healthcare visit or at least once in two years. You can also ask your doctor to recommend an automatic blood pressure monitor to take your blood pressure at home. Please read and obey the instructions of the monitor before use. 


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