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Blood Pressure  - how to measure and manage - #knowyournumbers

In this article we show you how you can "#KnowYourNumbers":

#KnowYourNumbers - understanding Blood Pressure and what the numbers mean

What is blood pressure, and what do the numbers mean?

Blood pressure is how hard your blood is pressing onto the insides of your veins and arteries. It's a measure of how hard your heart is working to push blood around your body. High blood pressure can damage your veins and arteries, leading to eye damage, kidney damage, heart attacks and strokes. High blood pressure is nick-named 'The silent killer' as it can be symptomless [you don't feel it happening] until something goes badly wrong. 

Blood Pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg) and is given as 2 figures:

  • systolic pressure – the pressure when your heart pushes blood out

  • diastolic pressure – the pressure when your heart rests between beats


For example, if your blood pressure is "140 over 90" or 140/90mmHg, it means you have a systolic pressure of 140mmHg and a diastolic pressure of 90mmHg.


As a general guide:

  • normal blood pressure is considered to be between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg

  • high blood pressure is considered to be 140/90mmHg or higher

  • low blood pressure is considered to be 90/60mmHg or lower


A blood pressure reading between 120/80mmHg and 140/90mmHg could mean you're at risk of developing high blood pressure if you don't take steps to keep your blood pressure under control.

Either your systolic pressure or diastolic pressure can be too high, or too low, on their own, the table below shows how doctors interpret your readings. 

We have also collected together some videos from The British Heart Foundation, and other good sources of information. 

Understanding Blood Pressure Readings fo

How to use this blood pressure chart to work out what your blood pressure readings mean

  • STEP 1 :  find your top number (systolic) on the left side (y-axis) of the blood pressure chart

  • STEP 2:  Now and read across and find your bottom number (diastolic) on the bottom (x-axis) of the blood pressure chart.

  • STEP 3:  The colour where the two lines meet is what kind of  blood pressure you have:

  • Blue - Low

  • Green - Ideal

  • Yellow - Pre-high blood pressure

  • Red - High Blood Pressure

If you are concerned that your blood pressure is very very high or low, try taking the readings again, and if you are still concerned, contact 111 for advice. 


Further Information - #KnowYourNumbers

  • If you, or someone you know, would prefer to read a leaflet about high blood pressure, download and print one from Blood Pressure UK

  • To compare a few different blood pressure monitors, and for recommended buys, visit this page on our site

  • Blood Pressure UK has a range of useful advice and leaflets

  • The British Heart Foundation has a very useful website that has videos and detailed information about different illnesses caused by high blood pressure

Videos to help you understand your blood pressure readings

We have collected together these videos which explain blood pressure readings, and discuss blood pressure in more detail, and talk about some effects of high blood pressure e.g. strokes and heart attacks.


We start with the easiest ones, if you keep swiping you will find they get longer and more complicated.