Blood pressure is an often-mentioned buzzword regarding health, especially among middle-aged individuals and above. However, what is blood pressure, exactly, and why is healthy blood pressure vital to your health and overall wellbeing?

What is Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure refers to how forcefully blood pushes through the arteries and circulates through the body. It’s an essential indicator of health and may vary among individuals. For example, age, diet, physical activity, and other factors, such as stress, medication, or certain health conditions, may alter the risk of developing high blood pressure or low blood pressure.

While you shouldn’t worry too much about your blood pressure (as this could ironically make it worse), you should see a medical professional if you suspect it is abnormal or you are exhibiting symptoms of high or low blood pressure.

Understanding Blood Pressure

The normal blood pressure range is between 90/60 mmHg to 120/80 mmHg (the mmHg measurement stands for millimetres of mercury). A blood pressure reading of 120/80 mmHg or lower is considered normal, whereas a reading of 140/90 mmHg or higher is too high.

High blood pressure (otherwise known as hypertension) increases the risk for serious medical conditions, such as heart disease and stroke, as well as kidney disease, among others. Meanwhile, low blood pressure can lead to a lack of oxygen in the system. If this happens, you might suddenly faint and fall, possibly resulting in injury.

It’s important to monitor blood pressure regularly to ensure it’s within a normal range. If your blood pressure is overly high or low (or you suspect this is the case), you must see your doctor. To get seen by a doctor more quickly, consider ​​booking online GP appointments instead.

What Causes High or Low Blood Pressure?

Developing high or low blood pressure is rarely the work of a moment. Usually, it takes place over time and can be due to several factors.

1. High Blood Pressure

You may be more at risk of high blood pressure if you are overweight or obese, don’t engage in enough physical activity, smoke, are overly stressed for a sustained period, or consume a poor diet. 

Left untreated, high blood pressure could lead to further health complications. The condition can damage the arteries by making them less elastic. This decrease in elasticity can reduce blood and oxygen flow to the heart, which may lead to heart attacks and other types of cardiovascular disease. High blood pressure can also damage the blood vessels, causing them to narrow, leak or even rupture. High blood pressure might also lead to blood clots in the arteries that deliver blood to the brain, which could block blood flow and potentially result in a stroke. 

Some symptoms of high blood pressure might include:

  • Headaches 
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Chest pain
  • Nosebleeds
  • Palpitations
  • Pulsation feelings in the neck
  • Anxiety

However, many individuals with high blood pressure show no symptoms. Some people may have high blood pressure for a long time without knowing. As such, it’s essential to get checked by your doctor.

2. Low Blood Pressure

On the other hand, low blood pressure (also known as hypotension) is also a health problem. You could develop low blood pressure if you consume excessive amounts of alcohol or take particular types of medication, such as antidepressants, anti-anxiety medication, and painkillers. Dehydration, pregnancy, being underweight, long-term bed rest, and certain medical conditions may also increase the risk of low blood pressure. 

Common symptoms of low blood pressure may include:

  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Blurred vision
  • Feeling weak 
  • Confusion
  • Fainting

How to Spot Abnormal Blood Pressure Levels

The symptoms of high and low blood pressure are indicators that blood pressure levels are not in the normal range. Although, many people don’t exhibit any symptoms in some cases. Still, if you showcase any signs of blood pressure abnormality, suspect something is wrong, or wish to get checked out just in case, you must see a doctor. 

It’s crucial to monitor blood pressure regularly to ensure that it remains within the healthy range, particularly if you’re at risk of blood pressure abnormality or have already received a high or low blood pressure diagnosis.

A home blood pressure monitor may be able to assist you in measuring your readings without visiting a doctor’s office. That said, you should still speak to your doctor for advice if you have any concerns about your readings, as well as get proper medical checkups with your doctor. A home blood pressure monitor isn’t a replacement for a regular professional medical blood pressure reading at a doctor’s appointment.

When should I see my doctor?

If you think you suspect you have high or low blood pressure, it is always a good idea to bring this up with your general practitioner. They will be able to carry out a full medical history and examination to determine the cause of your symptoms. You can also measure your blood pressure at home.

Please check your symptoms and visit your doctor if you are experiencing high or low blood pressure symptoms.