An Easy Explanation of Blood Pressure

We’ve all been to the doctor and had our arms wrapped in that black, cold plastic-like fabric with the Velcro on the end. As the doctor or nurse pumps down on that ball and it gets tighter, they’re attempting to measure our blood pressure. Sure, this is something we all know and have all been through. But what exactly is the purpose of knowing one’s blood pressure and what sort of implications does blood pressure have?

To define it simply, blood pressure is a measurement of the force which your blood pushes against your artery walls. Blood pressure numbers vary in most people, and they’re usually confusing because you have two numbers (130/90 for example). There are two numbers here because your blood is measured two ways.

  1. The higher of the two, is known as the systolic pressure.
  2. The lower number is the diastolic pressure.

The reason for the two separate measurements has to do with the two ways in which your blood is pressurized. The first way, the systolic pressure, occurs when the heart pumps and forces the blood through the arteries. The second pressure reading, the diastolic pressure, is a measurement of the amount of force generated when your heart is at rest or when blood flow is resisted.

Healthy adults should have a blood pressure reading of 120/80 or lower. Anything exceeding this becomes prehypertension or hypertension and anything much lower than the average is referred to as hypotension. There’s also a little bit of confusion with the letters some people see after the numbers. For example, the blood pressure may read as 120/80 mmHg. This is simply an abbreviation for millimeters of mercury – that’s how your blood is measured.

Blood Pressure Problems

If these measures fail, then there are a few prescription drugs available on the market to raise blood pressure.

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