Blood pressure: what it is, how to measure it

Blood pressure is one of the main indicators of the cardiovascular system. Assessment of the health of any person begins with the measurement of his blood pressure.

Pressure has upper and lower limits. The so-called upper pressure is systolic pressure, that is, the pressure during the period of contraction of the heart. The lower one is diastolic, that is, the pressure during the period of relaxation of the heart muscle.

Blood pressure is formed due to a large number of factors. This is the number of heart contractions, and stroke volume, that is, the amount of ejected blood per one contraction, and peripheral vascular resistance, and the volume of circulating blood. All these factors form the blood pressure figure. Through the same factors, you can influence the blood pressure numbers. For example, to lower blood pressure, you can reduce the number of heartbeats, you can reduce the volume of circulating blood, or dilate blood vessels. 

What is normal blood pressure

From the point of view of physics, the norm should not exceed 140 to 90. Everything that is higher is a deviation from the norm, which requires a visit to a doctor. Otherwise, everything is individual. Normal blood pressure may not be the same for all people.

Pressure has a curious feature: it rises with age. In children, blood pressure is lower than in adults. In 2018, at the European Society for the Study of Hypertension Congress in Barcelona, ​​new clinical guidelines for blood pressure were presented, with 130 being categorized as high normal.

Not every increase in pressure needs to be corrected, but it must be done if you have concomitant diseases. For example, if the patient’s pressure is not higher than 140 to 90, the doctor should not prescribe any medications, but if the patient also has type 2 diabetes mellitus, chronic kidney disease, coronary heart disease, a previous stroke or transient ischemic attack, the patient’s blood pressure should be not higher than 130 by 80, and the norm is 120.The rate of pressure is an individual indicator that changes throughout life

CategorySystolic(mmHg) Diastolic(mmHg)
Normal120-129and / or80–84
High normal130-139and / or85–89

How does the norm differ depending on age, gender, physique

In children, blood pressure is lower than in adults. Blood pressure rises with age. Gender has no effect on blood pressure. Physique – yes. People who are overweight are more likely to have high blood pressure than people with a normal body mass index who lead an active lifestyle and exercise regularly.

How to calculate your blood pressure rate

There is no universal formula for the calculation. This is more of a reference. Normal pressure is when you just feel good.

Professional athletes, for example, often have bradycardia. The pulse of such people is usually 60–55, the pressure is 110 to 70. Something can always happen that will provoke a rise, such as a cold or stress. In such a situation, the pressure rises to 130, the person does not feel well, although from the point of view of medicine, his pressure is within normal limits.

Pressure is a dynamic figure, so you don’t have to wait for it to be on one figure all day. The pressure changes during the day. They sat down – one thing, got up – another, walked or sat down – the third, lay down – the fourth.

The pressure always adapts to our load – both physical and emotional. If a person is healthy and the increase in pressure is not associated with the onset of myocardial infarction, compensatory mechanisms themselves regulate the pressure, and it will recover in 20-30 minutes. 

How often should you measure your blood pressure

Healthy people without an established diagnosis of hypertension do not need to regularly measure their blood pressure. Regular measurement is necessary for those who have diagnosed hypertension, and most often – at the stage of selection or correction of therapy. After correction, when an adequate dose has already been selected, the pressure should be measured situationally and for control. Necessarily – if you feel unwell.

You can measure the pressure at home with a conventional automatic tonometer. This is a very simple device. Many people think that blood pressure monitors are lying, but in reality, the error usually does not exceed 5 units. This is not so scary, because the dynamics are most important. If the pressure drops, everything is fine. And what it was in the beginning, 170 or 175, is not so important.

It is important to follow the rules for measuring blood pressure. This should be done while sitting, with your back leaning on the back of a chair, putting your hand on the table or on the armrest at the level of your heart, the cuff should be put on two fingers above the bend of the arm, it should correspond to the size of the forearm. It is possible to re-measure the pressure on the same arm only after 5-10 minutes, because the brachial artery has been compressed and after measurement it needs to return to its previous tone.

What to do if the pressure is abnormal


The universal advice is to see a doctor. If the pressure is high, you need to find the reason for the increase, and only a doctor can do this. There is a symptomatic increase: for example, when a weightlifter lifts the barbell, the pressure can reach 600 to 300. When he puts this barbell down, the pressure normalizes quickly enough. In hypertensive patients, it does not quickly normalize.

Rises in pressure above 140 to 90 can be provoked by something. Perhaps the person has the flu or pneumonia, is experiencing physical or emotional stress. These are all passing reasons. But if the pressure rises against the background of complete calmness, you need to see a doctor as soon as possible.

It is the doctor’s job to correct the pressure, so you cannot prescribe medication yourself. Home treatment is often disastrous. Only a professional is able to choose the right antihypertensive therapy. That is why, in the event of a sharp increase in blood pressure, it is necessary to call an ambulance and not take any medication on your own. Sometimes a rise in pressure can turn out to be a protective reaction of the body to some serious pathology, and rash medication can disrupt the work of compensatory defense mechanisms and harm.

How to control your blood pressure

  1. Lead an active lifestyle and monitor body weight. High blood pressure is most common in people who are overweight.
  2. Eat right, avoid foods and drinks that can have a direct effect on pressure changes.
  3. Sleep at least seven hours a day: from lack of sleep, the pressure often decreases, which causes poor health.
  4. Pay attention to how you feel. Normal pressure is an individual indicator, and the norm is quite wide. If you feel good, then the pressure is okay.
  5. Do not measure pressure frequently. Regular blood pressure measurements are necessary only for those who have diagnosed diseases that require monitoring. If you are healthy, you need to focus on your well-being. The pressure changes many times a day – you can’t keep track of everything.
  6. If you feel unwell and a sharp increase or decrease in pressure, you should immediately call a doctor.
  7. You cannot take pills to lower blood pressure on your own. In many cases, this can only worsen the condition and harm.