Todays post answers one of the commonest questions that I'm asked in my role as a family doctor.
What is considered high blood pressure? Where do we draw the line between normal and high - or even low blood pressure for that matter.
Well traditionally blood pressure is described by two numbers - called the systolic and the diastolic readings. The numbers are written like this: 135 / 80 (and pronounced one three five over eighty).
The systolic is the upper of the two numbers and is also the highest one. It represents the force that the heart generates as it pumps blood through the system.
The diastolic is the lower of the two numbers and indicates how much pressure is left in the heart as it relaxes for a second before the next pump or squeeze.
High blood pressure is said to be present when the systolic level is higher than 160 or the lower is greater than 90 (or both numbers are higher than 160/90)
Normal blood pressure is a systolic reading less than 140 and a diastolic less than 80.
Readings above 140/80 but less than 160/90 are borderline levels and represent a group of people who are at risk of developing high blood pressure in the future. They need careful and regular monitoring of their blood pressure levels and I always recommend that anyone in this position should buy themselves an automatic blood pressure monitor.