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You’ve had your blood pressure checked hundreds of times and you’ve been told that keeping your blood pressure ‘under control’ is important for long-term health. If your blood pressure is too high for too long, you’re at substantially increased risk of having a stroke or a heart attack.

But what is blood pressure?

Let me try to explain this in layman’s terms. Your heart is located more or less right in the middle of your chest. It is a pump that distributes oxygenated and deoxygenated blood from your lungs to all parts of your body and back again. It has 4 chambers. The upper 2 chambers are known as the atria and the lower 2 chambers are called the ventricles. Every time the heart ‘beats’ or contracts there is a momentary increase in the pressure in your arterial system (the system of blood vessels which directs blood to all parts of your body). You can feel a direct result of this increased pressure each time you feel your pulse located in your radial artery (wrist), or your carotid artery (neck). Now, when the heart beats, it actually consists of 2 distinct contractions separated by a brief pause. First, the upper 2 chambers (atria) contract forcing blood from the atria into the ventricles. Next the ventricles contract and force blood to the lungs and to all parts of the body. When we speak of your blood pressure, we are specifically referring to the left ventricle as it pumps blood from out from the heart, through your aorta (a huge artery) and to all parts of your body. This part of the contraction cycle is known as systole and the pressure produced as a result of this contraction is known as your systolic blood pressure. In between heart beats and immediately following systole is the relaxation phase known as diastole. The pressure measured during this phase is known as the diastolic blood pressure.

So, if your blood pressure is 112/74 that means that your systolic (pumping) pressure is 120 and your diastolic (relaxation) pressure is 80. In this instance, your blood pressure is a pressure ranging between 112 and 74.

What is an ideal blood pressure? 120/80 or less at rest is a mark that we should all shoot for. Any higher and we begin to increase our chances for heart disease and stroke.

Wondering what your blood pressure is? Stop by anytime and we’ll be happy to track it for you.