Know your blood pressure numbers for a healthy heart

Your blood pressure is important, no matter your age.

With 1 in 3 adults in the UK having high blood pressure, taking the time to ‘Know Your Numbers’ can help stop stroke and heart disease and could save your life.

Your Heart Health is central to overall good health – it’s responsible for just about everything that gives your body life – from the transportation of vital oxygen to the success of your immune system.  

Embracing a healthy lifestyle at any age can prevent heart disease and lower your risk for a heart attack or stroke – so being active and eating nutritionally balanced foods are two ways in which you can take care of your heart. Another is by monitoring and managing your blood pressure on a regular basis.

You can get your blood pressure checked for free. You can find out more about the place nearest to you here:

What is blood pressure?

It is the pressure of blood in your arteries which carry blood from your heart to other parts of your body. This pressure gets the blood moving around your body. It is normal for it to go up and down throughout the day and night as well as when you’re moving. If it is always high, you need to do something about it. High blood pressure rarely has any symptoms so you may not know you have it. It is very important you get it checked. If your blood pressure is high, your doctor may offer you medicines to help lower it. 

Take a look at this Understanding Blood Pressure video produced by The British Heart Foundation.

What is high blood pressure?

This is called hypertension. It means your blood pressure is always too high so your heart has to work harder to pump blood around your body. High blood pressure is serious. It can lead to heart attack or stroke as well as other health problems. 

What causes high blood pressure?

We do not always know what causes high blood pressure but for most people it is because of their diet, lifestyle or medical condition. It can sometimes run in families and can get worse as you get older. It can also be worse if you live in a deprived area or you are black African or black Caribbean.  

How is blood pressure checked?

It is usually checked using an electronic monitor that is connected to your arm. 

What do the numbers mean?

When your blood pressure is checked you are given two numbers:

  1. The first number is when the pressure is at its highest. We call this ‘systolic pressure’. This is when your heart beats and makes blood pump through your arteries.  
  2. The second number is when the pressure is at its lowest. We call this ‘diastolic pressure’. This is when your heart is relaxed between each heartbeat.  

Your blood pressure reading will sound something like ‘140 over 90’.

Your blood pressure should be less than ‘140 over 90’.   

Where can I get my blood pressure checked?

Your GP is a good place to start, but some pharmacies offer blood pressure checks, as do some workplaces and of course the NHS.

You can also check your blood pressure at home by buying a blood pressure monitor. Read more about this here.

Invaluable advice and information to help you

There are some fantastic organisations around that can offer great advice and information to help you improve your Heart Health including:

The NHS – How to Calculate your Heart Age – to give you an idea of how healthy your heart is.

The British Heart Foundation – understanding high blood pressure if you’re worried or have been told you have it.

Blood Pressure UK – which promotes ‘Know Your Numbers’ to raise awareness of high blood pressure and to encourage all UK adults to get a blood pressure check.