close up photo of a person holding a sphygmomanometer gauge

Blood Pressure: What Is It?

Anytime you head into the doctor’s office you get your blood pressure taken. It is a very normal practice, but do you know what the two numbers mean? Blood pressure is represented by two numbers, the systolic and diastolic pressures. The systolic pressure is the first of the two numbers or the number depicted on top of the other. The bottom number or the second number is called the diastolic pressure. These two numbers represent drastically different things.

The systolic pressure represents the maximum pressure that your arterial walls are feeling at the time of contraction of your heart (contraction of the left ventricle). A healthy pressure is about 120 mm Hg (millimeters of mercury). If the systolic pressure begins to rise higher than 130 mm Hg then we can start to consider this hypertension. Hypertension is the term used to describe high blood pressure. Things such as being overweight, not getting enough exercise, eating too much salt, and being over the age of 65 are common reasons to have hypertension. If your blood pressure drops below 110 mm Hg then you are considered to have hypotension or low blood pressure. Things such as significant loss of blood or body fluid can cause this.

The diastolic blood pressure is the opposite of systolic blood pressure. It represents the pressure on the arteries during the relaxation of the heart (filling of the left ventricle). This is considered to be the lowest blood pressure on your arteries. Very similar reasons that cause an increase and decrease in systolic blood pressure will result in a decrease and increase of diastolic blood pressure.

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I am a Biology Major attending Arcadia University. I started the company My Biology Experience in hopes to connect the Biology community on a closer level.

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