Blood pressure is an important indicator of the state of health. The expression “120 to 80” most people have heard before at the doctor. But many people can not properly classify the blood pressure values and are irritated by the combination of numbers. Here you get an overview that answers the most important questions: what do systolic and diastolic values mean? When is blood pressure normal and when does hypertension begin? What are the optimal blood pressure values for women, men and children? Everything in a big overview including clear tables.
What is blood pressure?
Blood pressure is the force with which the blood presses against the vascular walls of the arteries. The blood is pumped by the heart through the arteries, and as a result, pressure is applied to the vascular walls accordingly. If blood pressure is elevated, it is a risk factor for diseases of the cardiovascular system and is one of the leading causes of death. That is why the blood pressure values are checked at almost every visit to the doctor.
The blood pressure values always consist of two numbers (e.g. 120/80 mmHg):
systolic value (first or upper value)
diastolic value (second or lower value)
Both values are given in the unit mmHg (millimeter mercury column).
The systolic value indicates what the blood pressure is when the blood is pumped from the heart into the arteries. By the systolic value, the doctor can read how the health of the heart muscle and vascular system is. During the pumping phase, the heart muscle contracts (systole), as a result of which the pressure is higher.
The diastolic value shows the blood pressure during the relaxation phase of the heart between the heartbeats. In this phase, the chambers of the heart widen so that blood flows in (diastole), as a result of which the blood pressure is lower. Therefore, it is always necessary to measure both the systolic and the diastolic value.
Measuring blood pressure
Not only in the doctor’s office, but in virtually every pharmacy there is an opportunity to have his blood pressure measured. It is usually measured by the doctor’s assistant or by medical assistants on the upper arm, less often also on the wrist. Whether it is measured on the right or left arm makes no difference. However, it should always be measured on the same arm, preferably on the one where the blood pressure values are higher. This ensures comparability.
In addition, it is never measured directly after physical exertion or excitement, as both temporarily increase blood pressure. A rest period of at least three minutes ensures that the blood pressure values are correct. If you want or need to keep a closer eye on your blood pressure values, you can also check them at home with a handy blood pressure monitor. Detailed and further information can be found in the large overview on measuring blood pressure.
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