If you’ve been told you need to improve it, you may be wondering what is blood pressure? This is a number that you get checked every time you go to the doctor, but you may not know what it really is.
Your blood pressure is composed of two different numbers. It is written with one number over the other such as 120/80. Each of these numbers how much pressure your blood is placing on the walls of your blood vessels at two different times.
The higher number is called systolic pressure. This is the amount of pressure your blood places when your heart is actually contracting. The lower number is called diastolic pressure and it’s the measurement of when your heart is between beats.
All of that is very interesting, but you may be trying to figure out why it’s so important to know about this pressure. Blood pressure, though, is one of the most critical measurements you or your doctor can take.
When blood pressure is normal, it’s a good sign that your heart is able to do its job properly and that your blood vessels aren’t under too much stress. There are other things that could cause problems, but blood pressure is one of the most significant factors in heart health.
If your blood pressure is too low, your heart has to work extra hard to pump the blood throughout your body. Often you’ll feel sluggish and tired because you’re not getting all of the oxygen and nutrients you need.
When blood pressure is too high, your heart also has to work harder to pump blood throughout the body. Your blood vessels are also being pushed very hard as blood circulates and that can cause damage to their walls.
Eventually you can get what’s known as atherosclerosis, or hardened arteries. This makes your arteries weaker because they can’t stretch and contract as blood pumps. Cholesterol can get deposited more easily into hardened arteries and cause blockages.
All of this sets you up to have a higher risk of heart attack and stroke. It can also lead to kidney failure, loss of eyesight, and chest pain. If you have diabetes, this risk becomes even greater and you could be in real trouble.
High blood pressure can also make you feel light headed and make you feel increased stress. But the good news is that understanding what blood pressure is can help you to take control of it and improve your health significantly.