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Blood Pressure*

 

What is Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure is the force exerted on the walls of the blood vessels (artery) as blood flows through them.  The heart is like a pump.  When it contracts, or beats, it sends a surge of blood through the blood vessels and pressure increases.  This is called systolic pressure.  When the heart relaxes between beats, blood pressure decreases.  This is called your diastolic pressure.

Blood Pressure Measurement

When a doctor takes the blood pressure, he or she measures both the systolic and diastolic pressures and records them as numbers.  For example, if the blood pressure reading is 126/76 (126 over 76), the systolic is 126 and the diastolic is 76.  These two numbers provide important information about health.  The more difficult it is for blood to flow through the blood vessels, the higher both numbers will be.  When blood pressure is consistently above normal, it is called hypertension (high blood pressure).

People with mild to moderate hypertension may not experience any symptoms. In fact, the disease goes unnoticed in more than 30 percent of the cases. If left untreated, hypertension can eventually damage the heart and blood vessels.

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