Finding And Maintaining Your Ideal Blood Pressure
Your blood pressure is the force which is required by the heart to pump blood round your body. Most health professionals define ideal blood pressure as a reading of 120/80 or a little below. However, many factors can cause this to vary in each individual.
The two numbers in a reading like 120/80 are respectively called systolic and diastolic pressure. The systolic figure is a measurement of the force used by the heart on its actual beat, while the diastolic measurement is the pressure between heartbeats. The blood is pumped by the heart through a network of tubes or blood vessels called arteries, and each time the heart beats, the blood is forced through the arteries into the capillaries, a network of smaller blood vessels branching off the arteries.
The measurement of 120/80 is a notional figure for ideal blood pressure, as no two people’s measurements are identical, and every individual’s measurement will fluctuate throughout the day. It can be affected by many factors including food and drink, especially alcohol, physical activity, or the amount of stress that person is experiencing. Therefore, in order to ascertain whether a person’s level is normal, or whether it is too high or too low, it is necessary to take several readings over a period of about three days.
A large number of people have blood pressure levels that differ from the norm, and for the vast majority of these, the level will be too high rather than too low. High blood pressure or hypertension means that the amount of force required by the heart to force the blood through the arteries and capillaries is excessive, and this excessive force can damage the blood vessels and compel the heart to work too hard. This means there is increased risk of a number of serious conditions including heart attack, stroke and kidney failure. In most cases you will not experience any symptoms of hypertension, and it is often only discovered through routine medical checks.
If you have been diagnosed with hypertension, it is very important that you take steps to return to your ideal blood pressure, in order to reduce your risk of these serious conditions. This means identifying the lifestyle factors that have led to your hypertension in the first place. For most people, these factors are likely to include smoking, too much alcohol, eating an unhealthy diet including excessive salt and not enough fruit and vegetables, being overweight and leading too sedentary a lifestyle, or undergoing long periods of stress. For some people, however, the hypertension may be simply a feature of growing older and may not be the result of any particular lifestyle factors.
As a general rule, there is no such thing as an ideal blood pressure measurement for the whole population. A reading of 120/80 is generally considered normal, but this can vary greatly even for individuals. The important thing to remember is that even if you have not been diagnosed with hypertension, the nearer you can keep your blood pressure to normal levels, the healthier you will be.