Blood Pressure Check
May is National High Blood Pressure Education Month! Blood pressure checks are available at any of our neighborhood Fire Stations. No appointment is necessary.
What Is Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure is the pressure of the blood against the walls of the arteries. Blood pressure results from two forces. One is created by the heart as it pumps blood into the arteries and through the circulatory system. The other is the force of the arteries as they resist the blood flow.
What do blood pressure numbers indicate?
- The higher (systolic) number represents the pressure while the heart contracts to pump blood to the body.
- The lower (diastolic) number represents the pressure when the heart relaxes between beats.
The systolic pressure is always stated first. For example: 118/76 (118 over 76); systolic = 118, diastolic = 76.
Blood pressure below 120 over 80 mmHg (millimeters of mercury) is considered optimal for adults. A systolic pressure of 120 to 139 mmHg or a diastolic pressure of 80 to 89 mmHg is considered "prehypertension" and needs to be watched carefully. A blood pressure reading of 140 over 90 or higher is considered elevated (high).
What Is High Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure (or hypertension) is defined in an adult as a blood pressure greater than or equal to 140 mm Hg systolic pressure or greater than or equal to 90 mm Hg diastolic pressure.
High blood pressure directly increases the risk of coronary heart disease (which leads to heart attack) and stroke, especially when it's present with other risk factors.
High blood pressure can occur in children or adults, but it's more common among people over age 35. It's particularly prevalent in African Americans, middle-aged and elderly people, obese people, heavy drinkers and women taking birth control pills. It may run in families, but many people with a strong family history of high blood pressure never have it. People with diabetes mellitus, gout or kidney disease are more likely to have high blood pressure, too.
How can I tell if I have high blood pressure?
The only way to find out if you have high blood pressure is to have your blood pressure checked. Your doctor or other qualified health professional should check your blood pressure at least once every two years, or more often if necessary.
This information has been provided by the American Heart Association.
Also visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information.