What's Your Number?
Why it's important you keep track of your blood pressure.
What is blood pressure?
Blood pressure is the pressure of the blood in the arteries
as the heart pumps it around the body.
is blood pressure measured?
Blood pressure is usually measured by wrapping an inflatable
pressure bag around the upper arm. The bag is connected to a
pressure-measuring device. The entire instrument is called a
Blood pressure is recorded as two numbers, e.g. 120 over 80
(120/80)The higher number indicates the pressure in the
arteries as the heart squeezes out blood during each beat.
It is called the systolic blood pressure. The lower number
indicates the pressure as the heart relaxes before the next
beat. It is called the diastolic blood pressure. It is
measured in millimetres of mercury.
is best to measure blood pressure when you are relaxed and
sitting or lying down.
Blood pressure varies
Blood pressure does not stay the same all the time. It is
always changing to meet your body’s needs. If a reading is
high, your doctor will measure your blood pressure again on
several occasions to confirm the level. Your doctor may also
recommend that you measure your blood pressure at home or
have a recording with a monitoring device. This will be
particularly so if your doctor believes that coming to the
clinic makes your blood pressure rise. You can read more
about measuring your blood pressure and monitoring devices
in the Heart Foundation’s information sheet,
Self-Measurement of Blood Pressure (available on the
National Heart Foundation website).
What is high blood pressure?
There is no rule about what is high blood pressure, but the
following figures are a useful guide:
Normal blood pressure: less than 120/80 (i.e. systolic
less than 120 and diastolic less than 80). This is a guide
– normal blood pressure: between 120/80 and 140/90.
High blood pressure: Equal to or more than 140/90. If
the level is confirmed as equal to or more than 180/110 you
have very high blood pressure.
Note: the word ‘hypertension’ is often used for high blood
pressure. ‘Hypertension’ does not mean nervous tension.
does blood pressure matter?
the blood pressure remains high it can cause serious
problems like a heart attack, a stroke, heart failure or
kidney disease. High blood pressure usually does not give
warning signs. You can have high blood pressure and feel
perfectly well. The only way to find out if your blood
pressure is high is by having it checked regularly.
Source: Source: Australian National Heart Foundation