What is blood pressure?

Blood pressure is a way of determining the force of blood that is being pushed toward the walls of your arteries when your heart beats.

  • Systolic is the pressure that occurs when your heart contracts. (top)
  • Diastolic is the pressure when your heart relaxes. (bottom)

So if you are getting your blood pressure taken and the monitor reads 130 over 90 (130/90), your systolic is 130 and your diastolic is 90. Someone with high blood pressure (aka hypertension) essentially has a harder time pumping blood throughout their body because their arteries have become thinner and resist the force of blood. To make sure blood gets where it is supposed to go, your heart ratchets up the pressure. High blood pressure can result in heart attack and stroke so it’s a good idea to keep tabs on your blood pressure and check it regularly.