Blood pressure is the pressure with which blood is flowing round the arteries. When blood pressure is measured tWo readings are given expressed as one over the other eg 111/70. The first and higher reading is the pressure in the blood vessels when your heart is pumping blood round your arteries. It is called the systolic number. The lower reading represents the pressure in the blood vessels when the heart relaxes. It is called the diastolic number. For an adult a healthy blood pressure is considered to be below 120/80, though it is normal for it to be a little higher for pregnant women.
Blood pressure should always be measured in a calm environment and not immediately after exercise as this would raise blood pressure. Coffee and alcohol can also raise it and should not be taken immediately before testing.
High Blood pressure is categorised by doctors into three stages:
130 to 139/ 80 to 89 Stage 1
Over 140/ 90+ Stage 2
180 or more/120 or more Hypertensive crisis requiring urgent medical attention.
Stages 1 and 2 can be accompanied by the following symptoms: headaches, chest pains, problems with sight, nosebleeds, easily getting out of breath.
One of the greatest dangers of high blood pressure is that it brings with it increased risk of a heart attack.