Fact Sheet - Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is the amount of force exerted by the blood against the walls of the arteries. Blood pressure is a necessary element in your anatomy so that blood can get to the body's organs and muscles.

Disclaimer: The content in this page is meant for informative purposes only and it is not to be considered medical advice.? If you have any questions or feel that you may be experiencing any of the symptoms below please consult your family doctor or a qualified health care professional in your area.???

Blood Pressure

Each time the heart beats it pushes blood carrying oxygen and nutrients through the body's arteries and veins.? Blood pressure is the amount of force exerted by the blood against the walls of the arteries. Blood pressure is a necessary element in your anatomy so that blood can get to the body's organs and muscles.(1)

How is blood pressure measured??

Blood pressure is calculated as a pair of values: 140/90 or "140?over?90".

The pressure that blood exerts on your arteries is not always the same. The highest pressure is reached when your heart is pumping. In between beats, when your heart is resting, the pressure falls to its lowest level. For example, your nurse or doctor may say your blood pressure is "125 over 80." The higher number (125) is the pressure when the heart beats. It is called the systolic pressure. The lower number (80) is the pressure when the heart relaxes between beats. It is called the diastolic pressure.? Both the highest and the lowest pressures in your arteries are important, so a blood pressure always has two components.? Normal, healthy blood pressure is below 140/90.(1)

High blood pressure

When blood pressure becomes too high and stays that way over time it can damage the arteries and the body's delicate internal organs, such as the kidneys, heart, brain, or parts of the eye. High blood pressure also makes the heart work harder and may eventually change it.

There is only one way to find out if you have high blood pressure ? have your blood pressure checked by your doctor or nurse. One high blood pressure reading does not always mean you have high blood pressure. It takes several readings to know for sure. If your blood pressure becomes high and stays high, your doctor will say you have "high blood pressure." The medical word for high blood pressure is hypertension.(2)

High blood pressure = Hypertension

Hypertension does some of its damage by causing roughness in the usually glass-smooth lining of the arteries. When this happens, it is easier for fats and cholesterol to enter the artery walls, ultimately blocking them.?

Mild hypertension:

Most people diagnosed with hypertension fall into the "mild" range. But all hypertension?-- no matter how "mild"?-- should be treated. Mild hypertension hurts your arteries a little bit every day. In the long run, you may wind up with a serious problem that could have been avoided.

When an artery that feeds the brain becomes blocked, the result is called a "stroke". When an artery that feeds the muscles of the heart becomes blocked, the result is a "heart attack".

What does being diagnosed with high blood pressure mean for your health?

Having high blood pressure, or hypertension, does not mean that you are sick. But it does mean you have a condition that can make you sick if you do not take charge of it. Untreated high blood pressure means extra risk for a heart attack or stroke.


Treatment for high blood pressure differs according to each person. Some people can control their high blood pressure just by changing the way they eat and exercise. One of your friends with hypertension, for instance, may need only to lose weight and cut back on salt intake.

Although lifestyle changes are important in treatment, for many patients that is not enough. Your doctor may decide that you also need medication.


1.- What Are High Blood Pressure and Prehypertension? Your Guide to lowering High Blood Pressure:? National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute,?? http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/hbp/hbp/whathbp.htm

2.- Keeping Your High Blood Pressure?Under Control: http://www.merckfrosst.ca/e/health/heart/hiblood/home.html


Selected resources:

Canada Health Act

A fact sheet on the legislation that regulates federal health care programs in Canada.

Health Canada
A.L. 0900C2
Ottawa, Canada
K1A 0K9
Telephone: (613) 957-2991
Fax: (613) 941-5366
TTY: 1-800-267-1245


Canadian Coalition for High Blood Pressure Prevention and Control

Inter agency network to promote concerted efforts to prevent and eliminate high blood pressure in Canada.

Centre of Activity and Aging
1490 Richmond Street N, Room 208A
London, Ontario
N6G 2M3
Phone: (519) 661-1610
FAX: (519) 661-1635?

WEBSITE: www.canadianbpcoalition.org

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute(NHLBI)

Building 31, Room 5A52
31 Center Drive MSC 2486
Bethesda, MD 20892, US

WEBSITE: www.nhlbi.nih.gov?

The Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation

Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
222 Queen Street, Suite 1402
Ottawa, ON K1P 5V9
Telephone (613)569-4361
Fax (613)569-3278?

WEBSITE: http://ww1.heartandstroke.ca/bloodpressure/

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