BY DR AMANDA COX, BAYWEST MEDICAL CENTRE
You may have heard of 120/80 when people refer to blood pressure, but what does it mean, and why is it important? The first number is systolic blood pressure which is the pressure in your arteries when your heart muscle contracts and the second number is the pressure when your heart muscle relaxes. The heart repeats this by beating about 100,000 times per day.
A person may feel no symptoms when they have high blood pressure, so they may not know they have it. That’s why it’s an essential part of any check-up. Chronic high blood pressure is called hypertension and is one of the main risk factors for heart disease and stroke. For the best result, it’s ideal if you can sit quietly for five minutes and have both feet on the ground. Also, avoid checking it right after eating, having a coffee or cigarette, or doing heavy exercise.
What if I think I have white coat?
Some people’s blood pressure is elevated when they visit a doctor’s office but much better in other environments. Your doctors might organise a 24-hour monitor or ask you to record a series of readings from home.
How can I improve my blood pressure?
Simple measures can make a huge difference. Avoid salt/sodium, exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight, quit cigarettes, and reduce alcohol intake.
Take time in 2023 to find out if you are meeting your goal blood pressure; this will be different for everyone based on their health conditions.