Blood Pressure

The heart pumps blood into the arteries with enough force to push blood to the far reaches of each organ from the top of the head to the bottom of the feet. Blood pressure can be defined as the pressure of blood on the walls of the arteries as it circulates through the body.

Blood pressure is highest as it leaves the heart through the aorta and gradually decreases as it enters smaller and smaller blood vessels (arteries, arterioles, and capillaries). Blood returns in the veins leading to the heart, aided by gravity and muscle contraction.

How is blood pressure measured?

Blood pressure is measured with a blood pressure cuff and recorded as two numbers, for example, 120/80 mm Hg (millimeters of mercury). Blood pressure measurements are usually taken at the upper arm over the brachial artery.

The top, larger number is called the systolic pressure. This measures the pressure generated when the heart contracts (pumps). It reflects the pressure of the blood against arterial walls. 

The bottom, smaller number is called the diastolic pressure. This reflects the pressure in the arteries while the heart is filling and resting between heartbeats.

Many people have high blood pressure and don't know it.

Treatment

Blood pressure control is a lifelong challenge. High Blood Pressure can progress through the years, and treatments that worked earlier in life may need to be adjusted over time. Blood pressure control may involve a stepwise approach beginning with diet, weight loss, and lifestyle changes and eventually adding medications as required. In some situations, medications may be recommended immediately. As with many diseases, the health care practitioner and patient work together as a team to find the treatment plan that will work for that specific individual.

 

Blood Pressure Reading

Normal blood pressure less than 120/80

Pre-hypertension 120-139/ 80-89

High blood pressure (stage 1) 140-159/90-99

High blood pressure (stage 2) higher than 160/100

Source: American Heart Association

Listen to KidneyTalk Podcasts About Blood Pressure