Understanding Blood Pressure

We hear and talk about it all the time- Blood Pressure.
But, what does this part of my doctor’s visit really mean?

Blood pressure (BP) is the pressure exerted by circulating blood upon the walls of the blood vessels.

There are 2 numbers involved in a blood pressure reading:

  • The top number, systolic, is when the heart contracts, or the maximum amount of pressure observed.
  • The bottom number, diastolic, is when the heart is at rest, or minimum amount of pressure observed.

Normal blood pressure for a resting adult is 120/80
High blood pressure (hypertension) is when readings are greater than 140/90
Low blood pressure (hypotension) is when the readings are less than 90/60

Many conditions can affect your blood pressure readings- physical activity, stress, anxiety, pain, & disease. A reading can also vary depending on your position when taken (lying down, standing, sitting, etc).

Risks factors for hypertension:
family history, advanced age, gender, lack of physical activity, poor diet, high sodium intake, obesity, drinking too much alcohol, stress, smoking, second hand smoke, sleep apnea.

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