What is blood pressure?
Your heart is a muscle that pumps blood to your body’s organs and tissues.
Blood is pumped out of the left side of your heart into the arteries – the blood vessels that carry the blood’s oxygen and nutrients to your body.
As the blood pumps out of the heart and into the arteries, it pushes against the artery wall. Blood pressure is the measurement of the pressure of the blood in the artery.
Normal blood pressure can depend on your age and your body size. A normal blood pressure reading is around 120/80mmHg.
The top number, of the systolic reading, is the blood pressure when the heart is contracting. The diastolic reading, or the bottom number, is the pressure in the arteries when they heart rests between beats.
What is the difference between high and low blood pressure?
Hypotension, or low blood pressure, means that the pressure of blood circulating around your body is lower than normal.
Low blood pressure is relative to the person – meaning two people could have low blood pressure but it affects them differently. Low blood pressure can become a problem if it has a negative impact on the body, for example, if your brain is starved of oxygen or nutrients.
Symptoms of hypotension include light headedness, weakness, blurred vision, fatigue or fainting and unexplained falls.
Blood pressure over 140/90mmHG is considered high and can accelerate the build-up of plaque on the artery walls, clogging the blood flow to your heart muscles.
This puts you at risk of heart attack while also weakening the walls of the arteries to your brain, which can cause stroke.
High blood pressure can also affect other parts of your body such as the eyes and kidneys. Long-term high blood pressure is known as hypertension and is a risk factor for heart disease.
What causes high blood pressure?
Your blood pressure fluctuates throughout the day and depends on the amount of fluid in your body, the medications in your system and what you are doing at the time.
Your blood pressure can also be affected by your breathing, emotions, exercise and sleep.
The exact cause of high blood pressure is not clear, however various lifestyle behaviours have been known to contribute such as being overweight, not exercising enough, drinking more than two alcoholic drinks per day, stress, smoking and a family history of high blood pressure. In some cases, people with high blood pressure may have a pounding feeling in their head or chest or feel light-headedness.
Without symptoms, people with high blood pressure may go years without knowing they have the condition. You should schedule a visit to your doctor to be checked.
The good news is you can control and even prevent high blood pressure by making healthy lifestyle choices including reducing your salt and fat intake by ensuring you eat plenty of fruit and vegetables; exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight, limit your alcohol intake and quit smoking.
Your doctor may suggest you monitor your blood pressure over time in the comfort of your own home. It is a good way to understand how your blood pressure changes from one day to the next and in response to lifestyle and medical factors. Your doctor may use your home readings to make treatment decisions.
How can Snug help me monitor my blood pressure?
Snug – Australia’s most innovative and easy to use digital health record – makes it simple to keep track of your blood pressure readings.
Rather than keep a paper copy of your readings that can be easily lost, simply monitor and manage your readings by manually entering your systolic and diastolic measurements, the date and the time.
Alternatively, you can purchase a iHealth blood pressure monitor from the Snug Health store or connect to your at-home health device to automatically have your readings uploaded to your Snug account.
You can then keep track of your blood pressure by monitoring if your reading falls within the healthy range – and accurately report back to your doctor.
There is even a section to record your comments if you want to note if you’re having a stressful day.
Haven’t downloaded Snug?
Downloading Snug is easy. Simply visit the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store to download by searching for Snug.
Best of all, the full version is free for St.LukesHealth members. Rest assured, the only people who are allowed to have access to your Snug record are the people that you allow.
For more information about Snug and how to use this innovative product, visit www.snughealth.com.au or connect to Snug on Facebook @SnugHealth.
- Information sourced from the Heart Foundation and HealthShare