BP Basics


Blood pressure refers to the pressure of blood flow  in the arteries. Blood pressure reading is used to determine the cardiovascular health of an  individual. An instrument called the  sphygmomanometer is used to measure blood pressure. The unit  millimeter of mercury shown as mmHg is the unit of measurement of blood pressure.

Blood pressure has two components- systole and diastole. Systole  refers to the high blood pressure in arteries. It occurs when the heart expands and pumps blood into the arteries. Diastole refers to the low  pressure of blood in arteries.  This happens when the heart is in a stage of relaxation after contraction.

In  a normal healthy adult, the systole should be   120mmHg  and diastole should be 80mmHg. The blood pressure in an individual may change because  of factors such as stress, diet, disease, medication and age. 

Blood pressure varies according to age. .Blood pressure can be on the higher side in elderly people. It is usually normal in children.

High blood pressure implies  higher tension on the arteries when  blood flows through them.

People often wonder what high blood pressure is.   In medical terms, high blood pressure or hypertension denotes a condition in which the blood pressure reading is more than or equal to 140/90mmHg.

Medical practitioners use readings of both systole  and diastole to determine  blood pressure condition of an individual. Usually a doctor prescribes medication after checking  blood pressure several times.

High blood pressure or systole can cause  cardiac disease, heart attack, stroke, kidney problems, and organ damage and blindness etc.  Please note diastole causes diseases related to low blood pressure.

However isolated cases of blood pressure readings which are higher than 140/90 mmHg should not be a cause of worry.

To understand the perils associated with this silent killer, it is important to understand   blood pressure readings and the symptoms associated with them. The systole reading of  140 to 159mm Hg and diastole reading of 90-94mm  denotes mild hypertension.  A systolic reading of 160-179  and diastole reading 94-114mm Hg   signifies moderate hypertension. A blood pressure reading which denotes more than moderate hypertension is a cause for serious concern.

Uncontrolled mild and moderate hypertension can deteriorate into serious hypertension if not  treated on time.

At times, systole  may be more than 140mm Hg while the diastole  pressure may be is less than 90mm Hg. It denotes a condition of isolated systolic high blood pressure, which can lead to heart attack, blindness or kidney damage.

It is very important for  patients suffering from  high blood pressure to understand  the seriousness of the problem and the prescribed medication associated with it.