Understanding Blood Pressure

You might have heard the terms “Systolic”, “Diastolic”, “Stroke volume” being thrown about when you last had your blood pressure checked and silently nodded at the Doctor without understanding a single word of what they were talking about.

You are not alone in this. Blood pressure is a commonly discussed and commonly misunderstood part of human health. Allow me to clear up a few of the terms and what you should actually be aiming for when you get it measured.

First of all, I would recommend (if you can budget for it) that you get hold an electric blood pressure monitor for home use. It is good practice to regularly monitor your own BP and record it- rather than waiting months before your Doctors visit. They are not that expensive and can provide an insight into your health without leaving the house.

The Terms, there is alot of science that can be thrown behind a topic like this but I shall keep it brief. “Systolic” refers to the pressure that is measured on your artery walls when the heart is contracting (sending blood out). “Diastolic” refers to the pressure measured on the artery walls when the heart is refilling inbetween contractions, this is why it is a lower value. “Resting heart rate” is, as the name suggests, how hard the heart is working to pump bloody when you are at rest, so the lower the number here is generally better. “Stroke volume” is not a term that is generally included within BP testing but refers to the overall amount of blood that is pumped in a minute. “Hypertension and hypotension” refer to high and low BP, respectively. There are several ‘steps’ to each of these and is sometimes given a colour to signify its severity, for example 140/90 would be given a red flag whereas 140/80 would be an amber flag. If you do a self read and you are not sure about your reading then consult a Doctor, 

A good reading is advised to be 120/80 Systolic/Diastolic, this is for most ages and for those that have an activity level of low to moderate, if you have an activity level of moderate- very high then it can be as low as 100/60. Resting heart rate is indicative of a strong heart and a good reading for this in the same catergory as above would be 70 or less. Likewise those that exercise regularly could have a RHR of <50.

Foods that help to decrease blood pressure will be nothing short of what you may heard before, eating fruits and veg are always solid pieces of advice, as well as avoiding excess amounts of red meat and salt. 

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