What is a "Normal" Blood Pressure?
A Normal blood pressure reading is seen to be the healthy reading for individuals over 18 years of age not suffering from any known medical conditions. Typically, a healthy blood pressure reading is seen as being less than 80 mmHg diastolic and less than 120mmHg systolic. This level may however vary according to age, stress levels and general day to day activities.
Blood pressure simply explained is the amount of pressure that blood exerts on the walls of the arteries while it is being pumped around the body. It is measured in mmHg which in simple terms is the distance in millimetres that the pressure exerted by the heart would force a column of mercury to rise.
Blood pressure is essential due to the fact that it is responsible for ensuring that oxygenated blood supplies reach the organs and tissues of the body, the most important of which being the brain. It is estimated that the human brain requires approximately 700 to 800ml of oxygenated blood every single minute.
Low blood pressure levels occur when the heart does not pump the blood through the arteries with sufficient force. Although low blood pressure may result in unpleasant side effects such as dizziness and nausea, it is generally not life threatening unless extreme.
By comparison, high blood pressure places an incredible amount of strain on both the blood vessels and the heart, and may eventually lead to a heart attack. When blood pressure ceases as is typical in the case of a cardiac arrest, brain cells fail to receive the oxygen supplies they need. Consequently, they may become irreparably damaged which in some cases may result in individuals becoming brain damaged or even brain dead.
In the past, blood pressure fell into one of three categories- normal blood pressure, low and high blood pressure. Recently, a new category defined as prehypertensive has been added to the existing groups. A blood pressure reading is seen to fall into the prehypertensive category if it is between 80 and 89 diastolic and 120 and 139 systolic.
Those people whose blood pressure falls into the prehypertensive category should be aware of the fact that they are at risk of developing high blood pressure in the future. Subsequently, making simple lifestyle changes such as limiting alcohol consumption, embarking on a healthy diet and making time for regular, moderate exercise are strongly advised.