Hyper-what? Understanding High Blood Pressure

We all know the drill: When we get to the doctor’s office, we slide up our sleeve to have our blood pressure checked… but why?

Blood pressure refers to the pressure in the large arteries of the systemic circulation – that is, the pressure of blood circulating through your body on the walls of your body’s blood vessels. It’s usually expressed in terms of the systolic pressure (maximum pressure during one heartbeat) over diastolic pressure (minimum pressure between two heartbeats) and is measured in millimetres of mercury. The normal resting blood pressure in adults is 120/80 (systolic over diastolic).

A normal level of blood pressure is required to get blood throughout your body to organs and limbs, but high blood pressure – medically known as hypertension – can be dangerous over time. The long-term impact of high blood pressure is similar to the impact of adding too much air to a balloon or tire: it adds unnecessary stress to your body and can cause stroke, heart attack, heart failure, and other medical complications.

(Low blood pressure – known as hypotension – can also be a concern.)

Because hypertension often has no symptoms, regularly monitoring your blood pressure is your best line of defence! Fortunately, hypertension can be managed with medication and even lifestyle adjustments. Speak to your physician if you have questions or concerns about your blood pressure.

 

Did you know? 

We've partnered with GETDOWNBP– a Canadian program that brings people together to help them prevent or better control high blood pressure in a fun and achievable way.

Visit GETDOWNBP.ca and join the 1000s of community members to receive exclusive access to the GETDOWNBP mobile health app, blood pressure tools and tips, rewarding weekly challenges, educational resources, heart-healthy recipes, contests and more.