IT'S important to keep an eye on your blood pressure.
If you want to keep track of how your blood's pumping... here's all you need to know.
What is the average blood pressure for men and women?
The average blood pressure differs depending on your age.
What is a normal blood pressure reading?
The ideal blood pressure should be below 120 and over 80 (120/80) and most UK adults have blood pressure in the range 120 over 80 (120/80) to 140 over 90 (140/90).
The higher number is the systolic pressure, which is the force at which your heart pumps blood around your body, and the lower number is the diastolic pressure, the resistance to the blood flow in the blood vessels.
You can request a blood pressure reading at your local GP - it only takes a minute or so.
Blood pressure is measured with an instrument called a sphygmomanometer, where a a cuff is placed around your arm and inflated with a pump until the circulation is cut off.
Then, a small valve slowly deflates the cuff, and the doctor measures blood pressure.
How can I monitor my blood pressure at home?
If you want to measure your blood pressure at home, you will need to a buy a blood pressure monitor.
It's particularly important if a doctor has told you to monitor your blood pressure regularly.
If you are about to check your levels, avoid smoking, exercise, caffeine and stress directly before as these can affect your blood pressure.
Roll up your sleeve and sit with your arm resting palm-up on the arm of the chair.
Make sure you're relaxed, in a quiet space and you don't need to use the bathroom - as this can change the reading.
Then follow these simple steps:
- Locate your pulse on the inside of your elbow with your index and middle finger
- Secure the cuff of the monitor onto your arm using the fabric fastener to make sure it's in place
- Inflate and deflate the cuff using the instructions on the monitor - machines can differ
- Keep your arm straight for the most accurate reading
- Record the reading from the machine, as well as any special circumstances at the time (meals, stress, exercise etc.)
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What are the risks if your blood pressure is too high or too low?
If your blood pressure is too high (know as hypertension), it puts extra strain on your arteries (and your heart) and this may lead to heart attacks and strokes.
For the most part, the lower your blood pressure the better.
However, if you experience symptoms of dizziness, nausea, fainting and dehydration, then low blood pressure may be a problem.
If you experience any of those symptoms, it's best to see your GP.