Blood pressure measures the force at which your blood pushes on the sides of your arteries as it is pumped around your body by the heart.
Blood pressure is given as two readings:
– Systolic pressure (top number) – the pressure within the arteries when your heart beats to pump blood around the body
- Diastolic pressure (bottom number) – the pressure within the arteries when the heart rests between beats.
Why is it important to know my blood pressure reading?
There are rarely symptoms with blood pressure problems so having a blood pressure test is the only way to check if your blood pressure is too high or too low.
High blood pressure can increase your risk or a heart attack, stroke, and kidney disease.
Low blood pressure is less common though it can cause fainting or dizziness in some people.
Some people have what is known as ‘white coat syndrome’ which means feeling anxious when having blood pressure taken. With the convenience and comfort of the pharmacy, you may feel more relaxed or some people monitor their blood pressure at home. Browse our blood pressure monitors here. (Link to our blood pressure machine).
Who is at risk of high blood pressure?
All adults are at risk of high blood pressure, however there are many factors that can increase your risk of developing high blood pressure including:
Age – risk increases with age
Family history of high blood pressure
African or Caribbean origin
High salt intake
Long term sleep deprivation
Regularly drinking alcohol above the recommended 14 units per week
Making healthier lifestyle choices may assist with returning your blood pressure within a normal range.
How is blood pressure tested?
Before the test
You might want to wear a short-sleeved top to allow access to your arm to perform the test. Blood pressure fluctuates throughout the day, so it is a good idea to avoid eating, drinking caffeine products, or smoking one hour before the test. Bring a list of your current medication and supplements as some can affect your blood pressure reading. If you take medication for your blood pressure, take this as normal before your appointment.
During the test
You will normally be taken to the privacy of a consultation room where you will take a seat for a few minutes. For the test, it is best to be sitting, relaxed, with both feet flat on the floor and throughout the test it is good to avoid talking.
The blood pressure cuff is placed around your upper arm so you may need to roll up your sleeves. This cuff will inflate and squeeze your arm which may feel a little uncomfortable for a few seconds. The cuff will then release, and you will receive your results straight away. This may be repeated on both arms.
After the test
The results will be explained whether the test shows high or low blood pressure, and you may be advised of some lifestyle changes you can make to improve the readings. However, it is worth remembering that blood pressure varies throughout the day. You may also be referred to your GP for follow up.
Feel free to ask any questions you like about the results.