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There are a number of different ways that a person can check if they have a normal blood pressure reading. They can either visit their doctor or medical advisor, or a health visitor can take a reading for them using a sphygmomanometer or they can do it themselves using one of the many home blood pressure monitoring kits that have come on the market in recent years.
The traditional sphygmomanometer you find in your doctors and the home monitoring kits available today all work on the same principle.
They will often include a cuff, which you place around your arm (usually half way between the shoulder and the elbow) and some form of pump in order to put air into the cuff to exert pressure on the arteries so the blood pressure reading can then be taken.
Traditionally the monitor you see in your doctor’s surgery has a glass or plastic tube with numbers on either side and contained within this tube is mercury, which rises as the cuff is inflated.
When taking a reading the doctor will use the numbers on the left-hand side of the tube to provide the systolic pressure and the numbers on the right hand side of the tube to provide a diastolic reading.
The systolic reading refers to the arterial pressure when the heart contracts and pumps blood, the diastolic reading refers to the arterial pressure when the heart is at rest between contractions.
Home monitoring kits come with digital read outs, and sometimes print outs that can make understanding the reading easier for some.
Blood pressure is normally given in ranges, and can vary from country to country. Below are the ranges for the US:
Normal blood pressure is when a reading is less than 120/85mmHg
PreHypertension is when a person has a systolic reading of between 120 – 139 OR a diastolic reading of between 80-89mmHg
And people are considered as hypertensive if they have a systolic blood pressure reading of greater that 140 OR a diastolic reading of greater than 90.
Both the systolic and diastolic numbers are important, and if either fall into the range for prehypertension and hypertension then there is cause for concern.
Compared to 20 or 30 years ago, more and more people are being diagnosed with high blood pressure. The main causes seem to relate to the kind of lives we lead, which have become much more sedentary (less physical activity being undertaken) as well as worsening dietary habits.
As we are now all leading very stress filled lives we rely on convenience foods that can be high in sodium and fat and are often highly processed. All of these are factors that increase the risk of turning a normal blood pressure reading in to one that is elevated.
Plus, if you haven’t already done so, sign up for the free Relieve Blood Pressure Newsletter and discover new and natural methods to manage high blood pressure. In the newsletter you’ll also find other ways to lower blood pressure along with more information on how to manage and maintain a normal high blood pressure reading.