Your blood pressure is the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your arteries. Each time your heart beats, it pumps blood into the arteries. Your blood pressure is highest when your heart beats, pumping the blood. This is called systolic pressure. When your heart rests between beats, your blood pressure falls. This is called diastolic pressure.
Your blood pressure reading uses these two numbers. Usually, the systolic number is written above or before the diastolic number. For example, 120/80 (read as “120 over 80”)
Normal blood pressure
Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). Normal blood pressure for adults is generally in the range of 90/60 mmHg to 120/80 mmHg.
High blood pressure
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is when your blood pressure is consistently higher than the normal range.
There are two types of high blood pressure:
This type of high blood pressure develops over many years, and it’s the most common type. In many cases, the cause is unknown.
This type of high blood pressure happens when an underlying condition causes your blood pressure to rise. Conditions that can cause secondary hypertension include:
- Kidney problems
- Thyroid problems
- Sleep apnea
- Congenital heart defects
- Use of certain medications, such as birth control pills, cold remedies, decongestants, over-the-counter pain relievers, and some prescription drugs
- Illegal drug use, such as cocaine and amphetamines
Risks to health due to high blood pressure
High blood pressure can damage your heart. It increases your risk of heart attack and stroke. High blood pressure often has no signs or symptoms, so it can go unnoticed for years. That’s why it’s important to get your blood pressure checked regularly. If you have high blood pressure, your meds blood pressure healthtap doctor will work with you to control it. You may need to make lifestyle changes and take medications.
Low blood pressure
Low blood pressure, also called hypotension, is when your blood pressure is consistently lower than the normal range.
Some causes of low blood pressure include:
- Dehydration from not drinking enough fluids
- Heart problems, such as a heart attack or heart failure
- Endocrine problems, such as low blood sugar, an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism), or Addison’s disease
- Side effects from medications, such as diuretics, beta-blockers, and some drugs used to treat high blood pressure, heart failure, and Parkinson’s disease
- Problems with nerves that control blood vessels
- Anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction
Low blood pressure can make you feel lightheaded and dizzy. It can cause you to faint if the drop in blood pressure is sudden and severe.
Treating low blood pressure depends on the cause. In some cases, no treatment is necessary. But if low blood pressure is caused by a condition that needs treatment, treatments may include:
Blood pressure is a vital part of our health. It is important to maintain normal blood pressure levels, as both high and low blood pressure can be dangerous. If you think you may have high or low blood pressure, speak to your doctor. They will be able to help you manage your condition and keep you healthy.