nurse taking a patient's blood pressure

Blood Pressure Readings

The American Heart Association advises that a healthy blood pressure is around 120/80. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, often has no symptoms, yet it could weaken the arteries of the circulatory system and cause damage to the heart, brain, and kidneys over a span of many years. Nearly 1 in every 3 adults in America are taking medications and modifying their diet and exercise habits to maintain a healthy blood pressure.

A blood pressure/pulse reading is a measure of whether our hearts are pumping too hard or too rapidly. Different types of medication have different effects on blood pressure, but they generally slow the heart to prevent it from being overworked, while keeping the arteries and veins open so blood can flow more easily.

It’s important to check your blood pressure on a regular basis, either by investing in a blood pressure monitor or with a visit to a drug store or a healthcare professional

A Blood Pressure Reading

A blood pressure reading is taken with a blood pressure cuff (either manually or with a computerized monitor) by constricting the brachial artery in the upper arm to the point when all pulse sounds disappear, and then slowly releasing pressure.

When the force of the bloodstream first causes blood to flow through the constricted artery, a “thumping” sound is heard. This is the systolic pressure reading (a measure of the pressure on your artery walls when your heart is beating). As the blood pressure cuff slowly releases pressure at a rate of approximately 2-3 mmHg per second, the sounds within the artery become muffled and then disappear completely, which is the diastolic pressure (a measure of the pressure on your artery walls when the heart is at rest).

Read Instride: Cardiovascular Health