Blood pressure

Skip the primary navigation if you do not want to read it as the next section.


Primary navigation

Skip the main content if you do not want to read it as the next section.


When your heart beats, it pumps blood round your body to give it the energy and oxygen it needs. As the blood moves, it pushes against the sides of the blood vessels. The strength of this pushing is your blood pressure. If your blood pressure is too high, it puts extra strain on your arteries (and your heart) and this may lead to heart attacks and strokes.


Video - Your guide to blood pressure

How you can tell if you have high blood pressure

Having high blood pressure (hypertension) is not usually something that you feel or notice. It does not tend to produce obvious signs or symptoms. The only way to know what your blood pressure is, is to have it measured.

Blood pressure is measured in ‘millimetres of mercury’ (mmHg) and is written as two numbers. For example, if your reading is 120/80mmHg, your blood pressure is ‘120 over 80’.


What do the numbers mean?

Every blood pressure reading consists of two numbers or levels. They are shown as one number on top of the other.

The first (or top) number is your systolic blood pressure. It is the highest level your blood pressure reaches when your heart beats.

The second (or bottom) number is your diastolic blood pressure. It is the lowest level your blood pressure reaches as your heart relaxes between beats.

Blood pressure readings explained


Keep your blood pressure low

Even if you do not have high blood pressure at the moment, it is important to keep your blood pressure as low as you can. The higher your blood pressure, the higher your risk of health problems.

For example, a blood pressure of 135 over 85 may be “normal” but someone with this reading is twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke as someone with a reading of 115 over 75.




Cycling Europe

Find out why Blood Pressure UK supporter Steven Primrose-Smith is cycling to every capital city in Europe for Blood Pressure UK.

Sponsor Steven

Need help managing your blood pressure?

We’re here to help you. Over 90% of our members state that being a member of Blood Pressure UK helps them to manage and reduce their blood pressure.

Join Blood Pressure UK today for only 2 a month

Blood Pressure Monitors

Easy-to-use, validated blood pressure monitor's available to buy.

Buy a home monitor
The Charity Awards 2008 Winner

The Charity Awards 2008 Winner


Lottery funded

The following page sections include static unchanging site components such as the page banner, useful links and copyright information. Return to the top of page if you want to start again.


Page Extras

EmailPage to a friend

Skip the main banner if you do not want to read it as the next section.


Page Banner

Accessibility
Blood Pressure UK Home page
Helping you to lower your blood pressure

End of page. You can return to the page content navigation from here.