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About Blood Pressure
Welcome to the Blood Pressure Health Channel by eMedTV. Blood pressure is simply the pressure inside your blood vessels, both as your heart is pumping blood through the vessels and while the heart is relaxed. High and low blood pressure can cause health problems, so keeping your blood pressure at a proper level is essential to good long-term health. Many people consider a blood pressure of 120/80 mmHg (millimeters of mercury) to be normal. However, a person's blood pressure usually goes up and down within a certain range every day, so it's best to use more than one blood pressure reading to determine your average blood pressure. High blood pressure is defined as an average blood pressure reading over 140/90 mmHg.
Why Is It Important to Have Blood Pressure Tested?
High blood pressure is often known as the "silent killer" because most people with the condition experience no symptoms. The only way to know if your blood pressure is too high is to be tested.
How Is Blood Pressure Measured?
Blood pressure is measured using either a sphygmomanometer (a familiar device with a long name) or a blood pressure machine.
When a sphygmomanometer is used to take blood pressure, a fabric cuff is wrapped around the arm and then inflated. Then a stethoscope is used to listen to the sound of blood rushing back through the artery. As the air is released, the healthcare provider reads two numbers from a gauge that's attached to the cuff. The first number is read when a thumping sound is first heard. The second number is noted when the thumping sound is no longer heard.
What Do the Numbers In a Blood Pressure Reading Mean?
A blood pressure reading is expressed in millimeters of mercury (mmHg) and recorded with two numbers written like a fraction The top number in the reading measures the systolic blood pressure (when the heart is beating); the bottom number represents diastolic blood pressure (when the heart is at rest). When several readings are taken over a few days, your average blood pressure can be determined.
What Is a "Normal" Blood Pressure?
Many people define normal blood pressure as an average reading of 120/80 mmHg or below. An average blood pressure can only be determined when multiple readings are taken over at least three days. Several things (such as lifestyle and family history) can affect a person's normal blood pressure range. Be mindful of this when comparing your blood pressure to what's considered "normal blood pressure."
What Are the Effects of High Blood Pressure?
The effects of high blood pressure over time can include a heart attack, kidney failure, and congestive heart failure. The body structures most vulnerable to the effects of high blood pressure include the blood vessels, heart, brain, and kidneys. Fortunately, making certain lifestyle changes can help reduce the effects of high blood pressure on these vital organs.
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