About High Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is the pressure of the blood in your arteries. You need a certain amount of pressure to keep the blood flowing around your body. Your heart pumps blood through the arteries, by contracting and relaxing.

Your blood pressure reading consists of two numbers usually shown as one on top of the other and measured in mmHg (millimetres of mercury). If your blood pressure reading is 120 / 80mmHg your doctor or nurse may refer to it as “120 over 80”.

The first (or top) number represents the highest level that your blood pressure reaches when your heart contracts and pumps blood through your arteries – known as your systolic pressure. The second (or bottom) number represents the lowest level your blood pressure reaches as your heart relaxes between beats – your diastolic pressure.

High blood pressure – or hypertension – means that your blood pressure is constantly higher than the recommended level.

Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, your blood pressure should be below 140/90. If you have heart and circulatory disease (such as coronary heart disease or stroke) or diabetes or kidney disease, then your blood pressure should be below 130 / 80.