When the heart is squeezing blood into the arteries, the pressure is high. When the heart is relaxed, the pressure is lower.
Your blood pressure is a measurement taken of the highest reading (systolic) and the lowest reading (diastolic). It is given as 2 figures — highest over lowest or systolic over diastolic. Blood pressure is measured in ‘mmHg’, which refers to millimetres of mercury.
Your blood pressure varies from day to day, even moment to moment. Most doctors would say that a healthy blood pressure is higher than 90/60 mmHg but lower than about 140/90.
What is high blood pressure?
Generally, if a person has a blood pressure reading greater than 140/90 mmHg taken at least 3 times at the same clinic, they have high blood pressure. Your doctor may confirm this using a 24-hour blood pressure measurement or getting you to measure your blood pressure at home.
Most people with high blood pressure have no symptoms, and may feel quite well. This is why it’s important to see your doctor and have your blood pressure checked regularly, especially if you have one or more of the known risk factors.
Find out more about high blood pressure.
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What is low blood pressure?
Most doctors would say that you have low blood pressure if it is below 90/60 mmHg.
For some people, low blood pressure is a sign of good health. These are generally people who are very fit and who have a slow pulse. For other people, low blood pressure is a problem.
Find out more about low blood pressure.
How to lower your blood pressure
The following steps towards a healthier lifestyle can help you lower your blood pressure and keep it at a healthy level:
- exercise regularly
- follow a healthy diet
- reduce your salt intake
- lose weight if you are overweight
- limit alcohol
- quit smoking, if you smoke
Find out more about how to lower your blood pressure.
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Last reviewed: August 2020