Blood pressure is the pressure of your blood on the walls of your arteries as your heart pumps it around your body. It’s a vital part of how your heart and circulation works.

What do your blood pressure numbers mean?

We all know that we need to watch our blood pressure, but what do those two numbers really tell us? Blood pressure is written as two numbers, such as 120/76 mm Hg. The top, systolic, number is the pressure when the heart beats. The bottom, diastolic, number is the pressure when the heart rests between beats (Aboriginal & Strait, 2016). Please take note that a diagnosis of high blood pressure must be confirmed with a medical professional. According to American Heart Association, blood pressure reading is categorised as below:

How can I tell if I have high blood pressure?

You usually can’t tell! Many people have it and don’t know it. If it’s really high (Hypertension) you might have headaches, unusual problems with your sight and blood shot eyes, you find it difficult to breathe at times, you feel generally tired and confused or have a pounding feeling in your chest, neck or ears.

While low blood pressure (Hypotension) can make you feel dizzy, nauseous, fatigue, blurred vision and lack of concentration.

The only way to know if your blood pressure is high is to get it checked regularly by your doctor and through self- monitoring by measuring it using a monitor (Luis Pelaez, 2012). These devices are easy to use. You simply wrap the band around your upper arm or wrist, inflate it and wait while it takes a reading. They are accurate and will give you a measurement in a matter of seconds. Remember it is important to make sure you are sitting down and are rested before taking your blood pressure levels.

Who is at higher risk?

The exact causes of high blood pressure are often not clear. Blood pressure may be strongly influenced by (Strickland, 2007):

being overweight or obese, by not being physically active, by consuming too much sodium (salt), by

drinking too much alcohol, by having diabetes, gout or kidney disease and through pregnancy.

What can untreated and uncontrolled high blood pressure lead to?

Stroke, heart attack, angina or both, heart failure, kidney failure and peripheral arterial disease (PAD).

What can I do about it?

The chances of developing high blood pressure and its adverse consequences can be minimized by changing your lifestyle (WHO, 2013).

  • You must reach and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Adopt a healthy diet by eating five servings of fruit and vegetables every day. Eat healthy meals low in saturated fat, trans fat, sodium (salt) and added sugars. Reduce salt intake by consuming less than 5 grams of salt per day from all sources. Limit alcohol to no more than one drink per day for women or two drinks a day for men.
  • Be more physically active. If you have high blood pressure, aim for at least 40 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity at least 3 to 4 times a week.
  • Take medicine as directed by your doctor.
  • Monitor your blood pressure. Know what your blood pressure should be and work to keep it at that level.


  1. Aboriginal, M., & Strait, T. (2016). Blood Pressure.

  2. Luis Pelaez, J. (2012). Measuring your blood pressure at home. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quallity, 10. Retrieved from

  3. Strickland, E. (2007). That Is High. American Heart Association, (54), 1. Retrieved from

  4. WHO. (2013). High Blood Pressure : The Silent Killer Stay healthy : Check your blood pressure Do I have high blood pressure ? How can high blood pressure be prevented ?