You’ve probably seen those cop shows where a paramedic bursts into the emergency room with a patient on a stretcher shouting, “Blood pressure 90-over-60 and dropping fast!”
Unless you’re a real-life paramedic, chances are you don’t actually know what blood pressure means. Thankfully, the team at Don’t Change Much has got your back! Below you’ll find a breakdown that finally answers the question: Just what the heck is blood pressure, and why should I care?
What is blood pressure?
Think of blood pressure like this: when you feel your pulse beat, that’s the high number. It’s just a measure of the force of blood against the walls of your arteries. Your blood pressure can vary throughout the day, and change from day to day. It can also change according to your activity, posture, and emotions. These changes are normal if your blood pressure is within the healthy range.
The two types of blood pressure
Systolic blood pressure (the top number) measures the force of the blood against your artery walls when it’s at its greatest.
Diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) measures the pressure of the blood when the heart relaxes and the force of the blood is at its lowest.
High blood pressure
High blood pressure can be harmful. High blood pressure can cause strokes, heart attacks, and heart and kidney failure. It can also be related to dementia and sexual problems. These issues can be prevented if high blood pressure is controlled.
Low blood pressure
Low blood pressure is when the pressure in your arteries drops and your heart is pumping your blood at a slower rate than normal through your blood vessels. Blood pressure levels below 120 / 80 may be considered normal unless you feel light-headed or dizzy.
How to maintain a low blood pressure
What you can do to keep your blood pressure healthy is exercise, limit your alcohol intake, and cut back on smoking. Make sure to have your blood pressure measured at least once every two years, or more often if your doctor recommends it. Many pharmacies have blood pressure machines you can use on your own at no charge – try it out! Stay pressurized, gents!