Every time the human heart beats, it pumps blood to the whole body through the arteries.
What do the numbers mean?
Blood pressure is a measurement of the force applied to the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps blood through the body. The pressure is determined by the force and amount of blood pumped, and the size and flexibility of the arteries. Blood pressure is continually changing depending on activity, temperature, diet, emotional state, posture, physical state, and medication use.
Blood pressure is measured in millimetres and mercury (mmHg) It is written as two numbers, such as 130/80 mm Hg.
The top, (first) number, the systolic, number is the pressure when the heart beats.
The bottom (second) number, the diastolic, number is the pressure when the heart rests between beats.
|Optimal systolic blood pressure is less than 130 mm Hg systolic||Optimal diastolic blood pressure is less than 80 mm Hg diastolic|
What should my targets be?
Talk to your doctor or nurse about what numbers (pressures) you should aim for. Lower than 130 / 80 mm Hg is usually preferred.
High Blood Pressure (hypertension – blood pressures higher than 13/80 mmHg)
Hypertension, is a condition in which the arteries have continuously high blood pressure. Left alone, high blood pressure can cause heart attacks, kidney damage and eye damage. High blood pressure is only one of several factors shared by diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
What Are the Symptoms of High Blood Pressure?
Often, people with high blood pressure don’t know they have it. That's why it's so important to have your blood pressure checked on a regular basis (during every visit with your healthcare provider). If symptoms are experienced, they may differ from person to person.
They may include –
- Blurred vision
The symptoms of high blood pressure may resemble other medical conditions. Always consult your healthcare professional.
ABOUT BLOOD PRESSURE
What will help the numbers?
if you are overweight
|Make it easier for the heart to pump blood to the rest of your body. Losing some excess weight can make a big difference.|
|Get moving||If possible, aim to do some physical activity on five or more days of the week, for at least 30 minutes|
|Cut back on salt||The amount of salt that we eat can have an effect on our blood pressure. Ministry of Health guidelines recommend that we should have no more than six grams of salt per day. (Most people currently have more than this.)|
|Healthy food choices||A healthy diet provides health benefits in different ways. For example, it can lower cholesterol, help control weight, and has plenty of vitamins, fibre and other nutrients which help to prevent diseases. Nutritious foods have minerals and other nutrients that help pull sodium out of the body.|
|Limit alcohol||No more than 2 drinks for men and 1 drink for women|
|Stop smoking||And reduce exposure to second hand smoke|
When is treatment with medicines started for high blood pressure?
With diabetes, treatment with medicines is usually advised if blood pressure remains at 130/80 mmHg or above. Lifestyle modifications plus medication is the usual treatment for people with hypertension.
|Average effect on blood pressure from lifestyle interventions|
Average effect on
SBP (mm Hg)
Average effect on
DBP (mm Hg)
|Regular aerobic exercise||
|Weight loss of 3% to 9% of body weight in an overweight person||
|Reduced salt diet||
|SBP – systolic blood pressure DBP - Diastolic Blood Pressure|
|Journal of Family Medicine Vol55 #1 How effective are lifestyle changes for controlling hypertension|