It’s your heart and blood vessels together that controls blood pressure, as oxygen rich blood is pumped to all of your cells and organs. We measure blood pressure by its force – or how hard the heart is ‘pushing’ the blood supply around your body.
If your blood pressure is outside recommended levels, it can mean something’s not quite right. It’s important to note that things like physical activity, stress or excitement can change your blood pressure. Levels can vary during the day, too.
Within reason, blood pressure that’s too low (hypotension) isn’t a cause for concern unless it’s accompanied by other symptoms such as giddiness or fainting. But high blood pressure (hypertension) is something best avoided.
If you have high blood pressure (hypertension), it means your blood flow is putting abnormal pressure on your arteries and circulation. This can be a major risk in developing conditions like heart disease and strokes. It can also create problems for other organs, the kidneys in particular.
It’s important to measure your blood pressure on a regular basis – it’s a pain-free process. Your GP or practice nurse can do this easily, usually with a wrap-around cuff that fits around your upper arm. The readings are given in millimetres of mercury – mmHG. Two measurements are taken:
Medical professionals will then use these readings to advise you on whether your blood pressure is within normal limits or if you require to take some action. It is best to think of your blood pressure as being one factor that should be considered along with other risks such as smoking habits, other illnesses, your height and weight. If your blood pressure is judged to be too high, diet change, taking more exercise or drugs may be needed to help lower it. Your doctor will advise you which is best for you.
For more information on blood pressure visit NHS Choices
There are some simple lifestyle changes that could help reduce high blood pressure. We recommend a check-up with your GP before undertaking any changes to your normal diet or exercise plan.
Raised blood pressure can be a sign of elevated stress levels. Read more about stress here.