Everyone has a blood pressure. Your blood pressure is a measure of the force your heart uses to pump blood around the body.
Two numbers measure the level of your blood pressure.
The normal level of blood pressure is usually about 120 (systolic) over 80 (diastolic). High blood pressure is 140 over 90 or higher (or 140 over 80 if you have diabetes).
Lower blood pressure when you stand up or bend over (known as postural hypotension) may make you feel faint or dizzy. If this happens, tell your doctor and have your blood pressure taken when you are standing up.
High blood pressure carries risks for a number of serious conditions. The higher your blood pressure, the greater your risk of heart attack or stroke, heart failure, kidney failure, dementia and some forms of blindness.
The only way to look after – and know if you have – high blood pressure is to have it measured.
Try to get your blood pressure checked regularly and ask what your reading is. If you are over 30, it’s best to have your blood pressure checked once every 5 years. If your blood pressure is borderline high (around 140 over 90), you’ll need to get it checked more often by a doctor or nurse.
Many pharmacies are now offering blood pressure checks and some do 24-hour blood pressure monitoring. Sometimes your doctor will suggest you buy a reliable blood pressure monitor and measure your blood pressure regularly at home.
Knowing your blood pressure is key. If your blood pressure is only mildly high, the following small steps or lifestyle changes may help to reduce it. Other times, you may need to take medication to control your blood pressure.
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The Irish Heart Foundation’s Before Damage is Done campaign is kindly supported by Pfizer.